The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

the elite
A mind-boggling report out of the Great White North finds that most Canadians feel the national game, hockey, is getting to be too much of a rich-boy's (and girl's) sport.

The survey found that 82 per cent of Canadians feel all children living in Canada should have the chance to play hockey but that 66 per cent feel the sport is becoming elitist due to the high costs associated with playing the game.

The survey suggest it can cost around $1,000 for a child to play minor hockey for a year, depending on such variables as equipment and number of tournaments played in.

This is more than a little disconcerting, because these are the exact same reasons cited for why hockey doesn't take off in a big way in the States. The lack of resources and opportunity among lower-income kids serve as a barrier to entry, while the low everyday investment required of sports like baseball and basketball (and, relatively, even football) keep hockey from being a realistic option for most of America's youth. Actually, these factors apply just as well to families that otherwise have the means to buy hundreds of dollars worth of hockey equipment; just because they can doesn't mean they will.

Could this foreshadow a crisis in the talent pool foundation that the NHL needs? I can't believe this is all of a sudden a major concern. I'm sure there are still plenty of rural kids spending endless hours skating around backyard rinks, learning the basics with whatever equipment they could find. Cost was a significant disincentive before; I have to believe that where there's a will, there's a way.