On the Rink with Gootz: Young Sports Professionals in Limbo if Lockout Occurs

Gary Bettman waving goodbye to a 2012/13 NHL season?

Hockey fans are trying to distract themselves by talking line combinations, depth charts, and where their favorite teams will finish this coming year. They are talking about trades that will never happen, which coach is on the hot seat, and who their team has in the prospect pipeline. All of this to try to distract themselves from the very real possibility of another lockout in the sport they love. Those who have been paying attention have seen the league present a first proposal and are awaiting response from the NHLPA. With just about a month left to go (September 15 is the deadline) before the collective bargaining agreement expires and the league imposes a lockout on the players, everyone is hoping both sides figure this thing out.

One group that is hoping for a resolution to come quickly includes people like me. Young sports professionals who are trying to get their foot in the door with an organization in the professional ranks in the hopes of making it a career. With so few spots and numerous candidates, the job market in sports is difficult enough as it is.

The people who are in this group are those who want to be anything from general managers and commissioners, to athletic trainers and coaches. They want to be in the accounting, finance, legal, IT, or game operations departments. They want to be the people who help coordinate things that happen at games or volunteer in the community on behalf of the organization. Any and all who want to apply their talents in the world of sports off the ice, court, or field are affected by the possible work stoppage between owners and players.

Of course the sport will eventually come back and opportunities will arise again but for those people who are dedicated to working in the sport of hockey and want to devote time and energy to it, this whole situation is even more disheartening. Whether you are going for a full-time position or just for an internship knowing that you have to change your game plan and think of other options can make things somewhat complicated. Obviously experience anywhere will help you down the line and younger people can adapt to situations pretty well.

There is not a lot that can be done other than to wait and see what happens. My advice is to start looking at other options and other ways you can find your way to where you want to go. Just like trying to get to any destination, there are multiple routes. All you can do is react to the things you cannot control. Obviously this is one of those situations where very few people can control what is happening. Young sports professionals need to stay on top of this situation and read about it, no matter what sport they are interested in. All of the major sports have gone through labor negotiations and some, recently, gone through some rocky stages.

Take note of what happens because being apart of the professional sports world means having to be apart of the confrontation that is occurring right now no matter what your role in an organization may be. If you can look at the situation from afar and see the whole picture the sports world will make…a little more sense.

Chris Hoeler is a graduate student at Manhattanville College majoring in sports management, as well as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League. He also writes articles for Turnstyl3, where you can find the ticket to your favorite entertainment.

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