The NHL Lockout Is Driving Down Donations To Canadian Charities

The National Hockey League lockout is now 93 days old, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, at least not with both owners and the NHL Players Association turning to the legal system to maneuver through negotiations. That is certainly bad news for owners (the NHL is losing an estimated $20 million a day), for players who aren’t being paid, and for people who just want to spend their winter watching hockey.

It’s also bad news for Canadian food banks and charities, who are starting to report that their donation levels are down heading into the holidays. Many charities in Canada benefit from food drives run by teams and by bars and restaurants around arenas, but the lockout has prevented many of those food drives from happening, the Canadian Press reports:

“We’ve received calls from 23 different businesses, mostly sports bars who last year collected food for Sun Youth and this year, because of the strike, they have to lay off people,” said Tommy Kulczyk, director of emergency services at the Sun Youth community centre in Montreal.

“They’re not in the mood to do any kind of collection.”

He also noted that wives of Montreal Canadiens players had in past years organized a successful food drive at a Habs game tapping a potential 21,000 donors.

“It’s not going to happen this year.”

The obvious reaction here is to yell at players and owners to set aside their differences and get back on the ice, but I don’t think it’s useful or accurate to paint labor disputes in sports as simple fights between spoiled millionaires and billionaires. There are important issues at stake, particularly for the players who gave up so much in a lockout just eight years ago, and the outcome of a labor dispute is important whether it takes place in the NHL or at a construction company.

Still, it’s worth remembering that the nature of the sports industry means labor disputes and work stoppages can have huge impacts on people whose livelihood depends on the games being played, from arena workers to front office staff to people who depend on donations to charities. And when those games aren’t being played, it isn’t just the owners and players who have to deal with the consequences.