A major Pittsburgh newspaper carried a story on Dec. 12 detailing the local financial wreckage that has been left in the wake of the protracted, absurd labor impasse between National Hockey League players and team owners, who are unable to determine how to divide billions of dollars in annual revenues.
Although most players and team owners are millionaires many times over, both factions want more, more, more. How do they live with themselves? Do they read and consider the stories of those that their actions are serving to push into hardship, the individuals who now receive fewer hours of work and those who garner income that is a small fraction of what could be expected during an active hockey season? How about the plight of the business owner, small and large, some of whom no longer receive enough money to pay the bills with anything left over for the their families?
I am a great fan and regular patron of Pirates games at magnificent PNC Park, but I eschew the violent sports of football and hockey. I could not care less if professional hockey returns or whether fans will be able to maintain their interest throughout however long the spoiled and greedy are unable to reach an agreement. I DO care about the economic vitality of the region and about myriad individuals that are being harmed as their take-home pay and business income are decimated for no valid reason, hits that are partiucularly hard as Christmas approaches.
The founders of the labor movement could never have imagined that professional athletes being paid millions of dollars would be represented by unions or that public money would be extorted by slick and shameless team owners likie Mario Lemieux to pay for state-of-the-art facilities that the owners did not care to fund. At the time Consol Energy Center funding was being debated, then-Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato infamously stated that securing public funding for it was his "highest priority." I wonder if he stands by that offensive statement today or whether he would just as soon forget that he uttered it. Then-Governor Ed Rendell, who could always find money for projects he wished to advance in his interminable pursuit of expanding the vast scope and expense of state government, climbed into the driver's seat and secured state money to pay for the facility. How wise does this almost-eternal "investment" seem now as there is not sufficient money for education and human services?
Cities and states that make foolish investments find that these actions come back to haunt them.
It is tragic that those that are attempting to make an honest, and often modest living, are being scuttled in their wish to work by the villains of the sports world. Employees and small business people about whom the Penguins could not care less have my immense concern and empathy. They are pawns in the game of unbridled greed.