Tag Archives: strike

NHL Fans? Relax, It’s Just Business

By Jason Menard,

It’s a day of mixed emotions for many NHL fans — they’re thrilled the league has resolved its differences and brought the lockout to an end, but they’re equally angry at both the owners and the players for depriving them of their game — and they don’t know how to react.

The answer? Fans just have to remember, this wasn’t personal — it’s just business. Continue reading

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Teachers’ Union Must Remember Our Children Aren’t Bargaining Chips

By Jason Menard

My daughter is not a bargaining chip.

I admire teachers. I think they have one of the toughest, most-thankless jobs in the world. I think that most of them are good people, trying to do their best while their hands are tied in red tape.

I also know that if teachers decide to withhold extracurricular services to students as part of their protest of Tuesday’s provincial legislative manoeuvers, then they’ll lose any and all sympathy and support that they might have received from me — and, likely, from many other parents just like me.

This is your fight, not my daughter’s. Continue reading

Posties’ Problem? They’re Wearing the Wrong Type of Uniform

By Jason Menard

The problem with Canada Post? They don’t throw deliveries through a hoop into your mailbox or have to feint past a postal opponent to shoot your mail into a community box. If they had, supporters would have welcomed them back with open arms – a case we’ve seen repeated over and over in the sporting world.

The postal lock-out has now been over for a week, thanks to back-to-work legislation from the federal government. Despite the filibustering efforts of the NDP, the Conservatives finally got their chance to use a majority – and they did. Continue reading

Canada Post Mailing it In on Customer Strike Response

By Jason Menard

One of the dangers of social media is that everyone suddenly becomes a spokesperson for your brand. This danger is intensified when something is increasing the social temperature of an organization – like the inflammatory nature of a strike.

Look no further than the build-up to a potential strike by Canada Post. This is an organization that already takes a fair beating on its social media networks, including Facebook, from disgruntled customers. And now, with the drums beats hearkening a potential strike on the 25th of this month, customers are looking for a place to vent their frustrations. Continue reading

Scoring With Silence

By Jason Menard

I’m truly happy that the CBC is back at the negotiation tables with its locked-out employees. Really, I am. I’d hate to see anyone lose their jobs, and I can only imagine how this lockout is affecting their family.

But I’d be lying if I wasn’t intrigued by what would happen to their sports coverage if the commentators were still walking the picket line – especially when it comes time to drop the puck.

Maybe, for the first time in a long time, we’d be able to focus on what’s really important – the game.

The CBC, which was put out to pasture with the cancellation of the NHL regular season last year, should have been looking forward to their cash cow coming home with the end of the league’s lockout. Instead, lockout-itis seems to be catching and the public broadcaster has frozen out a significant number of its on-air talent, both on the TV and radio sides of the operation.

As such, we’ve been privy to broadcasts of Canadian Football League action with only the stadium announcer providing narration. That’s it. No pre-game drivel, no post-game inanity, no meandering commentary, no random non-sequiturs, no over-analysis, no distractions.

Just the game.

And, lo and behold, the fans have responded – positively. During a game broadcast on Aug. 27, 2005, a peak total of 746,000 viewers tuned in during the fourth quarter and an average of 580,000 fans watched the game, up from the season average of 412,000 viewers.

You can attribute some of those viewers to the curiosity factor and the proof will be in the long-term viewership, but the potential message is interesting. What if this is the first time that the fans have been able to express their displeasure at how their games have been taken away from them?

Modern sports has gone well beyond the point that many fans are comfortable with. Sport is a game in name only – it’s increasingly a business, designed to be marketed to certain demographics in the hope of selling product. And, in an attempt to keep listeners glued to their sets, broadcasters have tried to make each game an event.

But perhaps the pomp and bombast that accompany each broadcast are overwhelming the fans. Maybe, just maybe, we want something more simple and more pure.

With the odd exception, most sports broadcasts are overwhelmed by the commentary. The on-air personalities are trying too hard to be just that – personalities. Many times anecdotes extend into game time – a tacit implication that the announcer’s stories are more integral to the game than the on-ice or on-field action.

Inane points are overemphasized, as if each passing syllable is an opportunity to justify commentator’s presence. And, often times, the commentary is just plain wrong – identifying the wrong player, the wrong formation, or the wrong situation – simply because the focus on coming up with the next bit of witty repartee diminishes the focus on the reality of the game.

In addition, broadcasters go into each game with an agenda. They have a story they want to tell, one that they feel will be most compelling to the audience. Whether it’s a focus on a player or a situation, broadcasters champ at the bit to frame the game action in some sort of context. But, sports being what they are, announcers often have to stretch their analogies to shoehorn the reality into their preferred context. Instead of reveling in the unpredictable nature of sports, we are weighed down with prognostication and selective analysis wherein activities that don’t justify the preferred thesis are simply discarded.

The best broadcasters are the ones that serve as a conduit through which the game flows. The best analysts are the ones who don’t go into a game with a pre-conceived agenda, but rather they possess an understanding of the game and a willingness to contextualize what’s happening on the field or on the rink based upon the here and now.

These are the broadcasters and analysts that understand that they are not the show – the game is what matters. They understand that people tune into sports for the enjoyment of the on-field or on-ice product, not the in-studio machinations. They understand that their role is to complement the game, not overwhelm it.

So while I hope those locked-out CBC staffers get back to work soon, I can’t help but harbour a faint hope that we’ll be able to hear a game without announcers. And, far from being a silent broadcast, we’d finally be allowed to hear the game speak for itself.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

The Hockey Strike is the Fans’ Fault

By Jason Menard

So the NHL and the NHLPA have decided that since they can’t share the big ball of wealth that they’ve got to play with, they’re simply going to pack up and go home.

Everybody who is passionate about the sport seems to have an opinion about who’s to blame in this mess. There are those railing on about the greedy players and others talking about the mismanagement of the owners. And then the common refrain is heard, “The only one’s who are really suffering are the fans!”

Ah, but the fans are not as innocent as they have been portrayed. In fact, the fans are probably as much to blame – if not more – than either the owners or the players for this mess. The fact of the matter is that, despite increased ticket prices, indifferent treatment by both players and owners alike, a poorer quality game, and exorbitant rates for everything from parking to souvenirs to refreshments at an arena, the fans continued to go to the games, drop their hard-earned coin, and pay these salaries.

We, the fans, have become enablers for the very activity we despise. I’ve been asked by many non-hockey fans why teams charge so much for (insert item here: tickets, apparel, beer), and my simple answer has always been, “Because they can.” They’re simply charging what the market will bear and, unfortunately, the market’s been willing to bear too much.

I’m no economist, but I know that if someone was willing to pay me a million bucks to write a column, I’d be typing so fast my fingers would bleed! The word no would be out of my vocabulary for a while, in this case. So why do we begrudge the owners for charging top dollar for what’s essentially junk?

People across this great nation of ours lament the poor quality hockey to which we’re subjected. Their love of hockey is more rooted in the past than any sort of present. But still, instead of showing their dissatisfaction, they continue to flock like lemmings to the Air Canada Centre, the Bell Centre, or any other steel and glass hockey shrine (usually one that’s been funded by taxpayer dollars.)

There’s a lot of talk about the lack of fan interest for the southern US teams. But can this really all be attributed to a lack of interest? I think we should actually be proud of those fans who aren’t allowing themselves to be ripped off! They’re putting their money where their mouths are. Why pay for a product that’s inferior?

We’re the ones that are held hostage by our passion for hockey. You wouldn’t think twice about not going to a restaurant that charged you top dollar for poor quality food, but asking you to give up those cherished season’s tickets is akin to asking you to give up your first born! It’s only those of us in the “traditional” (which I believe is a euphemism for gullible) hockey markets who chose to ignore the product, the service, and the entertainment value, and shell out more and more of our hard-earned money each year. Maybe the time has come to look at our collective ravenous appetite for hockey and temper it with some common sense.

Now that the NHL is gone, hopefully these same people that are outraged by the owners’ and players’ actions will now support other options like Junior and University hockey. The excitement is building for the Memorial Cup. Fan support of the Knights has never been higher and this should happen right across this great land of ours. True hockey fans should stop worrying about what they’re missing, and discover what they’ve missed for all these years. Junior Hockey (or AHL, or any number of leagues) provides entertaining hockey at a fraction of the cost.

Support these leagues, and even after the NHL comes back with their empty apologies and hollow statements of love, continue to support them. We live in a market-driven society. When we stop paying the prices that these teams demand and, instead, give our money to a more affordable option, then the NHL will get the point.

Then ticket prices may start coming down. Then a beer may not cost you a second mortgage. Then maybe we’ll be as smart as those fans in the Southern U.S.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved