Everybody is Being Greedy; Not Everybody is Being Unfair

I’m a hockey fan. And I think the players are being greedy in the CBA negotiations. I think the owners are too. It’s a lot of money; so much, that greed is a given on both sides.

We fans are greedy too. We want NHL hockey to arrive on time this Fall.

Imagine my dismay on learning that hockey icon Bobby Orr thinks that attitudes like mine are unfair to the players. Unfair?

Come on now.

The quote as published by James Murphy at ESPNBoston is this:

Players want their fair share, and that’s what it’s all about and I think it’s very unfair if fans — until they understand and see everything what’s out there — that they suggest that the players are being greedy.

What exactly is the player’s fair share anyway? It matters. What if the players believed that their fair share was 75% of hockey-related revenue? Can I say they’re greedy then and not be criticized for it? I guess I’m confused where Orr draws the line. Further, I’m kind of appalled to find myself, as a faithful nameless fan, being shamed by having some opinion that might be critical of the players.

Dallas Stars fans like myself, for example, ought to think twice about throwing their full support behind the players. Back in early December of 2011 and contrary to all expectations, the team owned a winning record. Yet attendance was way down. New owner Tom Gaglardi announced that the team would be cutting ticket prices beginning that day, with some seats going as low as $9.

If Gaglardi had any motives beyond bringing fans back to American Airlines Center, they’re immaterial. The fact is, more people were able to attend more Dallas home games. I don’t recall any of the players announcing that they would be making any complimentary changes that would in any way be beneficial to the fans.

Perhaps that’s because they don’t have the power that an owner has—the power to make tickets more affordable, just like that.

Perhaps they don’t have that power because they shouldn’t have that power. They don’t own the company, they merely work for it—something they prove every July when any perceived loyalty goes up in smoke and many of them jump ship for more money.

We fans too easily throw our support behind the players no matter what because we have made a personal, emotionally-based connection to them, even if we’ve never actually met them. It’s hard to defend the notion that you support the players because they score the goals, or you like how they play, and you don’t support the owners because they’re greedy capitalists. These notions only rise to the level of being noteworthy, and not necessarily valid, when things reach a point where players aren’t scoring goals because they have been locked out by owners who are perceived as being demonstrably greedier than they are.

In the quote, Orr introduced the word ‘fair’.  ‘Fair’ and ‘unfair’ are impossibly subjective.

He further assumes that the ‘fair share’ is a universally equitable one. I don’t know that it is. Nobody does, nobody will. Again, it’s entirely subjective.

Without getting too technical, Orr commits the fallacy of begging the question. Contrary to popular perception, begging the question doesn’t refer to a situation that demands a specific question be asked. Rather, it’s like a circular argument, in which a premise meant to support a claim actually carries within it the assumption that a claim is already true.

It’s like saying you can be trusted not to steal any money if left alone at a bank, and how do we know you won’t steal money? Because your friend Bill says you won’t. Can we trust Bill? Of course, because you’ll vouch for Bill’s honesty.

It’s hard to know precisely what Orr finds to be a fair share, and frankly, considering history, he might be the last guy to ask for a fair number and not the first one to determine what isn’t fair.

In the annals of hockey perhaps no one person changed the way the game is played more than Bobby Orr.

And perhaps no one in the game of hockey was as summarily ripped off and taken advantage off as badly as Bobby Orr.

Therein lies the problem. His support of the players is practically a given. He was one. And now he’s a player agent. On those two points alone his position betrays some bias. Throw in his history with Alan Eagleson, and he becomes a source without a lot of credibility.

I have tremendous respect for Bobby Orr. As I wrote back on 3 July, I think the Norris Trophy should be renamed after him.

On virtually every hockey related topic, from A to Z, I would defer to Bobby Orr’s knowledge and experience.

Except this one.