Decline In Hockey Isn’t Rocket Science

I love reading all the theories of why the interest in hockey across Canada, Ontario and Toronto is on the steep decline. I especially love when the blame is put on the Maple Leafs for their losing ways. The reality is there are a lot of reasons why interest is down, but it says here none of them has anything to do with our loveable losers. I suggest that interest in the Maple Leafs may be down but there is no correlation between that and the decline in hockey.

Let’s take the easiest answers first. Hockey is expensive. The equipment, the ice time, the leagues all cost a fortune. This is not buying a pair of soccer shoes or basketball shoes or even a tennis racket. There are a ton of barriers to playing hockey that don’t exist in the other sports. After economics, there is the simple answer of time. Learning to play the game isn’t as simple as basketball, soccer or other sports. You have to teach a kid to skate, and that takes a long time. There are hockey skills and all that comes with learning the game. Parents don’t have the time it takes to deal with school and all the other programs that go on, there isn’t enough time to spend multiple hours at the arena.

So you take an expensive sport, two parent working homes with little time and then you have a larger foreign population in our backyard and you can quickly see how interest in the game is on the decline.

Now having said that I can tell you this. Little TSM is about to turn 7. If we don’t register him for hockey and related programs within 24 hours after registration begins for the programs we want, we won’t get in. There are four or five leagues in our area and they are all the same. There are a dozen or so skills programs around us too and they are all the same, jam packed within hours of registration being open.

Now, where the Leafs get killed in my opinion and I have said this before is that young kids, at least those I know, have no interest in the Maple Leaf players. Little TSM loves Crosby and Ovechkin. One of his cousins told me this passed weekend that his favorite players is Tavares and Sharp. The Maple Leafs failures on ice don’t matter nearly as much as their inability to produce or attract players that capture the minds or attentions of our youth. Little TSM wouldn’t want any one Maple Leaf jersey. Not one!

So as we try and figure out how to build the sport in Canada and Toronto I think we need to keep perspective of the world around us. When I was a kid we came home from school and played road hockey for hours. Today kids play on their DS, xbox or ps3. More parents are working and have less time to spend with their kids. We are in a bad spot economically and hockey is expensive. All the other reason are noise in my opinion.


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