The idea of boycotting the National Hockey League forever – forever ever? forever ever! – is an instinctual one, rightly born out of anger, frustration and the feeling that fans have no say in the CBA process.
It’s also an impractical one that very few diehard hockey fans could deliver on. (If you’re one of those rare idealists who is still boycotting since 2004, we commend you for your perseverance and dedication to the grudge. For that you deserve the Bill Masterton Memorial Plaque of Spite.)
Over the last few days, a new — and very doable — fan-fuelled get-back plot began spreading the way all things do now, through Facebook. In less than a week, Just Drop It has gained 4,600-plus “likes” or pledges from NHL fans disgruntled by a work stoppage that on Monday saw regular-season NHL games cancelled through Dec. 30.
The modified boycott assumes a straightforward, eye-for-an-eye approach. It’s getting biblical, kids:
For every game cancelled after Dec. 21, those fans onboard Drop It vow to boycott the equivalent number of games once the NHL resumes action. The self-imposed ban includes purchasing team merchandise, watching games on television, and of course attending in person.
“WE THE FANS OF THE NHL are embarrassed. With a third work stoppage in 18 years, we’re clearly taken for granted and disrespected. As an individual, you have the power to make a difference,” reads Just Drop It’s mission statement. “This is an effective way for the loyal fans — who make the sport possible in the first place — to be heard. If enough of us do this, we will get some measure of respect from the league and the union. Perhaps they’ll find this movement amusing, but they’d be wise to not underestimate us!”
While similar fan-sparked movements and petitions have taken root during this lockout – unfollowing the NHL’s Twitter account en masse, flash-mobbing impromptu street hockey games, encouraging zero attendance at each team’s eventual home opener – it would be interesting to see what the “world’s greatest fans” (commissioner Gary Bettman’s words) could do if they actually hit the league and its players in their pocketbook.
It has been often said that fans don’t have a seat at the bargaining table, but they actually have more power than they give themselves credit for, if only to make a statement.
This latest concept of boycotting a specific and definite number of games is good one.
It’s easier to abstain from something you love if you have an end date circled on your calendar where you can once again gorge yourself. I’m sure that’s why Lent took off.