Communications professor Peter Chow-White, who studies social media’s impact on society, talks in a Canadian Press article about how the National Hockey League could be affected if fans are ignored during the impending lockout.
He says the league’s brand could be damaged if fans are ignored, but adds it remains to be seen how the league responds to online fan protests.
“If the fans can show enough dissatisfaction and actually raise what could be considered to the NHL a threat to their ticket sales then they absolutely could have an impact,” says Chow-White.
“Whether or not they actually go to lockout, at the end of the day it will be the lawyers and the players and the owners and the commissioner (who) will decide that. But (fans) could very well play a factor.”
Chow-White is skeptical hockey fans will have a similar influence to other online movements, such as the Occupy protest. He pointed to what he sees as a lack of organization between fans, and that the NHL labour dispute doesn’t make a meaningful impact on those outside the hockey world.
“As far as what people will put their energies into in terms of protests these days, I’m not sure a labour dispute between extremely rich people will get people worked up. . . .
“It seems a fairly mild venture at this point.”
Still, he says it is too early to tell what will happen and doubts fans will leave the sport in droves similar to what happened following baseball’s 1994 lockout. A significant reaction from the NHL would depend on protests being a threat to revenue, but Chow-White doubts even that would prevent a lockout.