Young Fans Reactions To An NHL Lockout

A normal Sunday evening for me involves hanging out in Building One of the St. Andrew’s (Sloan) Parish Campus.  As a Youth Minister – it’s a lot of fun to chaperone/plan and bring events to life, especially when the kids enjoy them so much.

Last night was no exception, and we took our junior high youth group – despite the nasty weather to an outdoor haunted house in the neighborhood.  A good time was had by all, hot chocolate, donuts, coffee, apple cider, tricks and treats.

The topic of conversation was anything but hockey – until my surprise the ride home to drop the kids off at the end of the night.  I thought the conversation would turn to school the next morning, the impending weather, what they were going to do next meeting – the usual fair.

To my surprise, the girls in the car started complaining about missing hockey and hoping that the NHL lockout comes to a quick and speedy resolution so they can watch hockey again.  Wanting to get the pulse of the “young” fan and the future of the sport, I jumped on the opportunity to see how these sports enthusiasts, as mini as they might be were reacting to the lockout.

Q1 – Do you guys care less about hockey the longer this goes on?

No way – we just want to watch the games again.  Nights are boring with out hockey to watch.

There were a few kids that brought up cranky and unbearable moms and dads – but I won’t name any names to protect the innocent.

Q2 (Most of those in attendance are in the 11-12 range, so they would not remember Lockout 2004).  Do you guys know this happened just eight years ago, and will probably repeat while your in high school or first year of college?  Most of the answers here were of the “really” variety – which led into my next question.  Does it make you hate the lockout or the sport even more knowing that more hockey will be cancelled in your lifetime?

No – not really, they will still play, missing some games sucks – but we will still watch the games when it comes back.

There was more conversation throughout the ride home, explanations of  economics of the sports and contracts, Fehr and Bettman not budging, some favorite player naming (Ryan Miller was the hands down winner).

I wasn’t anticipating turning my conversations with a dozen or so pre-teens into an article, until I laid in bed this morning pondering why I should get out of bed – and the conversations of the night before hit me – the NHL was right, they don’t care about fan conversations or reactions to the lockout, because fans will come back to the sport.

For every miffed fan that posts on the internet that they will protect their wallet against a sport that has had work stoppages and labor strike four times in the last twenty years – there are two more fans with screaming kids, the fans of tomorrow who will still want sweaters, and tickets, and the whole game experience, regardless of the length or number of lockouts.

Hopefully this generation of fans will grow up and understand more about the economics of life, and hate the NHL like most for doing this circa 2020 when the lockout cycle repeats itself; but there will be another generation of young fans waiting in the wings to fill the void where another drops off.


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