Cable war causes hockey fans to suffer

I only enjoy two things: sleeping and watching hockey. Since ESPN has foolishly whittled down its hockey coverage this year in favor of the NBA, I was relying on the Sunshine Network and its Lightning coverage to pick up the slack. Silly me.

Since the New Year began, Sunshine Network, owned by Fox, has been locked in a bitter struggle with Time Warner. Apparently, Sunshine Network’s contract with Time Warner ran out Dec. 31. Now, the two heavyweights are fighting over money and blaming each other for the fact that I’m unable to see the Lightning play.

Evidently, Time Warner wants to make Sunshine a premium network. This means that in order to watch the Bolts, I would have to shell out more money per month. If I wanted to spend money to watch them, I’d go to more games. Plus, I’d be paying extra for hockey coverage that could be politely described as adequate.

To date, I’ve missed three televised games. I had tickets to two games that were to be televised and one was shown on WFTS. What really strikes me, the fact that both sides blame each other for the station not being on the air.

Sunshine Network’s Web site says Time Warner declined to renew the contract. Time Warner’s Tampa Web site says it is disappointed that Fox/Sunshine pulled its signal. However, Time Warner does make a good point when it says that it is customary for a station to proceed under the old agreement until a new one is settled upon. That would be nice, and I think it makes Sunshine look bad to simply yank its programming. Sunshine Network has hosted various viewing parties, but attending them would interfere with sleep, which I love so much.

I’ll be honest; I don’t really care whose fault it is. I don’t care what their problem is. All I want is the Lightning and the other teams I don’t care about back on television. I know I could get a satellite dish or something, but I’m poor. I could just listen to the games on the radio, but hockey is a visual game and the radio play-by-play man really annoys me.

The most aggravating part about this for me is the fact the Lightning are playing their best hockey in years. They are in position to win their division and make the playoffs for the first time since ’96. In addition, the team is sending two players, Martin St. Louis and Nikolai Khabibulin, to the All-Star game for the first time in the team’s history, and I’m missing it.

I heard an axiom about business that says a good deal is one that leaves neither side happy. My proposal is to stay under the old agreement for at least another couple of years. I think that should upset both Time Warner and Fox while making the fans happy at the same time. It appears that both sides have probably forgotten about us.

Nobody wins when multi-billion-dollar companies get locked in a stalemate. The average person gets hurt a lot more than either company ever will. I don’t have the inside knowledge necessary to make an educated statement about who is right or wrong.

What is wrong is depriving me, and possibly other people, of Lightning games. I assume other people watch. So if any executives are reading this, work something out, even if it’s just temporary. Without the games being on television, I’m sleeping way too much.

Having made my point, I’m now off to bed.

Chris Ricketts is a senior majoring in English.