9:03pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Sweetness And Light

NHL Lockout Leaves Fans Out In The Cold

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:44 am

The entertainment industry seems to give us only three things: sex, Justin Bieber and boxing.

Justin Bieber aside, don't producers know almost nobody cares anymore about boxing? But here we have Clifford Odets' period piece, Golden Boy, back on Broadway, and — achtung! — a musical of Rocky mounted in Germany.

Plus the usual same-old, same-old treatments are floating around. Eminem wants to make a boxing movie. Really. Worse, there are actual plans to have Sylvester Stallone fight Robert DeNiro in a boxing film. OMG — I am perfectly serious.

I say, please, can't we do sports movies for the sports fans who still exist and care? Yes, I know, as we say, that "in the full scheme of things" caring passionately about a mere sport is not important. And yes, sports fans are not necessarily the most discriminating. What is American parents' greatest nightmare? That they will spend $60,000 a year to send their son to Duke University, and then they will turn on the TV and see him half-naked, with his face painted blue, contorted, screaming at some poor guy from Wake Forest or Clemson shooting a free throw.

But most important, right now I wish the entertainment moguls would do a play or a film for the poor hockey fans, who don't have an NHL season because the owners have locked out the players and, as we know, there is no bipartisanship left in America today. Or, I guess, in Canada now, too.

So I feel very sorry for ice hockey fans even though they have a reputation for being the most vulgar fans of all. I mean, the NHL won't outlaw fights because hockey fans really, really like fights as much as incidental things like skating and pucks going into the net. Just as the most idiotic basketball fans don't all go to Duke, neither are all the ice hockey goons on the ice.

But I have found hockey fans to be especially loyal, and I conducted a thorough random survey among rabid hockey fans — namely my son — and he concurred with the common sentiment that hockey fans are less likely to flirt with other sports.

In other words, whereas, say, most basketball fans are relatively unfaithful, with a seasonal dalliance with football and baseball, hockey fans are more monogamous, sportswise, and don't care all that much for other team sports. And so they're really, really hurting right now.

Yes, OK, sports fans can be foolish and small, but what counts most is that they are emotionally invested in something.

So today, hockey fans are living their lives, going about their business, but their days are a little paler — with not quite so much mystery or excitement or anticipation. Those little joys are healthy for a lot of people. We can sympathize with fans when their sport is taken from them. Sure, it's just a game, but it does matter, even in the full scheme of things.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Many hockey fans have not yet accepted that there may be no NHL season this year. Commentator Frank Deford wants hockey fans to know he feels your pain.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: The entertainment industry seems to give us only three things: sex, Justin Bieber and boxing. Justin Bieber aside, don't producers know almost nobody cares anymore about boxing? But here we have Clifford Odets' period piece, "Golden Boy," back on Broadway, and achtung, a musical of "Rocky" mounted in Germany. Plus, the usual same-old-same-old treatments are floating around.

Eminem wants to make a boxing movie - really? Worse, there are actual plans to have Sylvester Stallone fight Robert DeNiro in a boxing film. OMG, I am perfectly serious.

I say, please, can't we do sports movies for the sports fans that still exist and care? Yes, I know that, as we say, in the full scheme of things caring passionately about a mere sport is not important. And yes, sports fans are not necessarily the most discriminating.

What is an American parent's greatest nightmare? That they will spend $60,000 a year to send their son to Duke, and then they will turn on the TV and see him half-naked, with his face painted blue, contorted, screaming at some poor guy from Wake Forest or Clemson shooting a free throw.

But most important, right now I wish the entertainment moguls would do a play or a film for the poor hockey fans who don't have an NHL season because the owners have locked out the players. And, as we know, there is no bipartisanship left in America today. Or, I guess, in Canada either. So I feel very sorry for ice hockey fans, even though they have a reputation for being the most vulgar of all.

I mean, the NHL won't outlaw fights because hockey fans really, really like fights as much as incidental things like skating and pucks going into the net. But I have found hockey fans to be especially loyal, less likely to flirt with other sports.

In other words, whereas, say, most basketball fans are relatively unfaithful with a seasonal dalliance with football and baseball, hockey fans are more monogamous, sports-wise, and don't care all that much for other team sports. And so, they're really, really hurting right now.

Yes. Yes, OK. Sports fans can be foolish and small. But what counts most is that they are emotionally invested in something. So today, hockey fans are living their lives, going about their business, but their days are a little paler with not quite so much mystery or excitement or anticipation. Those little joys are healthy for a lot of people. We can sympathize with fans when their sport is taken from them. Sure, it's just a game, but it does matter, even in the full scheme of things.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Commentator Frank Deford joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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