When you think of the Olympics what do you imagine? You might think of the best athletes from around the globe competing against each other in their respective sports from their corresponding countries. However, that will not be the case for men’s hockey at the Winter Olympics in South Korea this year.
The National Hockey League (NHL) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been at war for years now in an ill-fated battle over who owns the most talented hockey players around the world. NHL team owners feel that the mid-season break for the Olympics costs them too much revenue and is disruptive. Team owners also cite concerns that their star athletes could potentially be injured, thus costing them more revenue overall.
“I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season, and there is somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the March 8, 2017 General Managers meeting.
Previously the IOC chose to pay for potential costs associated with travel, insurance and accommodations. However, they informed the NHL they will not do so for the 2018 games, citing concerns that the MLB and NBA might seek similar treatment.
The National Hockey League Players’ Association released a statement last April regarding the players’ feelings on no longer being allowed to compete in the Olympics.
“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s short-sighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics,” the NHL said in the statement. “Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.”
The largest casualties of this dispute are, unfortunately, the fans and overall growth of the sport. Many fans, including myself, look forward to this exciting time where the best athletes compete on the highest level for the most meaningful reasons such as national pride.
Missing out on these players going head to head is disappointing, especially when it comes because two organizations are fighting over who stands to make the most money at the expense of players and fans.
Lance Ririe for SUU News