Locked-Out Future? The lockout through the eyes of an NHL intern

With all of the focus surrounding the NHL and its players during the current lockout, it’s easy to forget that there are many others who are affected by the work stoppage, such as team employees and concession workers. Some of those team employees are student interns, who are not only missing out on the opportunity to gain experience working in the field they aspire to enter upon graduation, but whose academic records are jeopardized when their internships are threatened.

Kirsten with Ian Laperrière

20-year-old Kirsten Swanson is a senior at Temple University who was hired as an intern with the Philadelphia Flyers this past June. As a hockey fan who grew up just five minutes from the sports complex in South Philadelphia, the internship was a dream come true for her.

“My goal is to work in sports media in some capacity, whether it’s covering a team or working for a team, specifically hockey or baseball,” she said.

Kirsten’s role as a Public Relations intern for game nights would have given her the opportunity to prepare the press box, give out game notes, and conduct post-game interviews with the players and coaches for the official transcripts. That experience would have prepared her a great deal for working in both public relations and journalism in the sports industry.

Unfortunately, since there is no NHL season, there are no game nights, and Kirsten has not had a chance to do any of those things.

Experience aside, the lockout is affecting Kirsten’s academic record. The internship would have given her two credits that she now needs to make up for with a new internship next semester. Internships don’t come easy, and especially in the sports industry, so Kirsten may not find another internship quite like this one.

At Temple, students need to have an internship to qualify for graduation.

“I was lucky in that I have an extra semester to make it up, but I’m sure there are interns who were depending on those credits to graduate,” Kirsten acknowledged.

The Flyers have been very accommodating to what the interns need and have guaranteed that if the lockout is lifted, they will still have their internships. In the meantime, Kirsten has applied for an internship with the Sixers and is planning on applying to several other media outlets.

This hockey fan sees the issues of the lockout on both sides, recognizing that there isn’t one side completely at fault over the other.

“The owners cry that they are losing money, the players cry that the league is ruining the sport, and meanwhile, the fans are the ones who are missing out.”

Kirsten is staying optimistic and believes that fans will be watching games by the first week of December. However, she noted that the negotiations seem to change every day, and that she’d hoped they’d be on the verge of a new deal by Thanksgiving, which is looking less and less likely every day.

She believes, regardless of when the lockout ends, that the fans will be back in droves to see their beloved sport, and is herself already planning which away games she’ll be attending if the lockout is lifted.

“People are saying that Gary Bettman is ruining the sport and that hockey will become irrelevant, but hockey has the strongest core group of fans. Whether there is a missed season or not, Philly fans are still going to fill the arena. A lockout is not going to change that.”

Of course, the lockout being lifted will bring great joy to hockey fans, but few will be happier than people like Kirsten, whose future is influenced greatly by the sport.