I remember where I was on the first night of last summer's NBA lockout. I also remember sitting with my laptop, loading the NBA page just to find that it had been stripped to the bare basics, trying to hide the fact that it was ever affiliated with any of the locked out players in question. That was a sad day for basketball fans.
To a lesser extent, but probably more so to many of you, I remember feeling the same thing about the NFL Lockout. Football was something that I loved, too, and it hurt to have that taken away.
Now, we're one day away from the Collective Bargaining Agreement of the National Hockey League expiring and the third major lockout in two years. Sadly, it almost feels like it didn't even happen.
Let's face the facts: hockey is a backseat sport in the grand spectrum of American sports. Football is king, baseball and basketball are constantly jockeying for the second spot in American's hearts, and that leaves hockey to battle it out with soccer/futbol for third. Sad, but those are the facts.
So it should not come as a surprise that the build up to this year's NHL Lockout has been very light. When the NFL and NBA Lockouts were looming, you couldn't go 10 minutes without seeing a segment dissecting it on ESPN or find a sport website that didn't have a new lockout story near the top of the page. Simply put, they ruled the news cycle. As for the NHL Lockout? You'd be hard pressed to find more than five minutes of coverage on SportsCenter. Heck, even our own website has offered little coverage of the labor talks. Is it media bias, neglectfulness or something else?
Media coverage is driven by interest. Obviously, people are interested in football and basketball. Hockey? Not to say that people aren't interested in it -- you are, I'm well aware of that -- but there is only so much a program can cover. Take SportsCenter, it's usually an hour-long show. With all of the football coverage, professional and college, and the on-going baseball season, plus all the other stories of the day, you can't put everything into one show. That's just the way it works out.
What does that tell you? Well, the interest for hockey just isn't there on the same level as the other sports covered. Is a lockout bigger news that the result of last night's game between the Red Sox and Yankees? Sure. Are more people interested in it than a rivalry game? Not necessarily.
As the lockout gets underway, and we're assuming it will happen barring a complete turnaround in the next few days, the coverage should pick up. Let it be known, though, I feel your pain, hockey fans. I grew up loving basketball, baseball and football more than I did hockey, but in no way do I hate the sport. I've grown to enjoy and respect the sport more and more over the years. When I covered Game 7 of last year's first round playoff series between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, I was extremely impressed with the environment at TD Garden. The place was rocking, more so than I have experienced at any Boston Celtics game. Impressive, B's fans.
It still hurts, though, that I know. I don't think anyone in this profession would wish a lockout upon a fan base. We all love our sports, and when we don't have them, it's no fun for anyone. Jobs are lost, too, and not just the jobs of the million-dollar athletes. It's a no win situation for anyone, except the greedy representatives on both sides of the argument. I wish we weren't headed this way, but since all signs are pointing in that direction, here's hoping that everything gets resolved. Quickly.
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Editor of SB Nation Boston. Follow @GethinCoolbaugh on Twitter.