Is the good old hockey game really still the best game we can name?
There’s a definite disconnect between the expense and effort put in to nationwide hockey promotions and what’s actually happening on Canada’s urban rinks.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of hockey-themed events-the Hockey Night In Canada brouhaha and the Kraft Hockeyville contest is a great example-there’s been a such a drop in enrollments in urban youth hockey leagues that some have been forced to fold. Strange as it seems, it’s true.
A large reason for this is the large population of new Canadians in urban centres. Many of them swear sporting allegiance to cricket or other warm-weather sports, and most can’t spare the expense of hockey leagues while they’re just starting out.
I think, though, the most likely reason we’ve had such an insular obsession with the game that we’ve failed to show new Canadians anything about it. And therein lies the opportunity to truly engage all Canadians in our formerly favourite game.
Personally, I think hockey is part of our national identity and if we want it to stay that way, we have to connect with those who don’t show an interest. If Canadians want to keep hockey’s status as the national pastime, it’s time to stop preaching to the choir and start talking to the curious.
This country loves the game so much that we’ve made the mistake of assuming newcomers will absorb that enthusiasm by osmosis. Obviously, that’s not true.
Things that could be done, especially with a corporate sponsor backing it? Education sessions on hockey 101, sponsorship of new Canadians in local leagues, extending special invitations to local cultural centres to attend a community game.
Hopefully, there’s already organizations out there that are already doing this kind of outreach. If anyone knows of any, let me know.
Can you think of any other ways to connect new Canadians with the good old hockey game?[ad]