Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Popularity of Hockey

Where is hockey headed?
Will it popular in 10 years?
Will it be popular in 100 years?

Let's delve into the world of hockey.

In the 90s, hockey had reached its peak popularity. It was a major part of pop-culture in the U.S. Hockey was a part of TV and movies. The Mighty Ducks were all about hockey, and movies like Happy Gilmore and Wayne's World referenced to the sport quite a bit. Even the most popular show on TV, Seinfeld, talked about hockey(C'mon man, support the team. THE DEVILLLLLLS!!!!) for awhile. Hockey jerseys were worn regularly in movies (Christmas Vacation, Pushing Tin). Where is that kind of stuff now?

You don't see any of that today. Hockey is just not a part of pop-culture anymore.


The lost season a couple years ago has affected hockey badly. When people lost hockey, they simply moved on to other sports. Canadians didn't move on, but Americans did. Hockey was alright, but losing it was no big deal. And it's tough to win back fans when games are broadcast on the Outdoor Life Network.


Northern European countries and Russia are the only other places that care about hockey. Mainly because, like Canada, it's so freakin cold for a lot of the year. And when it's winter for a lot of the year, hockey is by far the best and most fun thing to do outside. Hockey does fairly well in these countries, but soccer still rules. Hockey won't die out, but it will never grow as popular as soccer. Soccer only continues to grow in this increasingly global world as a world-wide sport. Eventually it will be popular in North America and should eventually become the second most popular sport next to football in the US. People can only have so many sports to follow, and hockey is barely getting by as it is. Soccer might squeeze hockey out of the minds of Americans (keep in mind this is a long time from now). Canadians are very apt to do whatever Americans do and they follow American media closely, so when hockey is out of the public eye of Americans, hockey will eventually fall away from Canadians.


Just found this out. It may interest you to know that Nike is selling their hockey division to a group of investors headed by, you guessed it, a Canadian. Nike acquired Bauer in 1994 for 395$ million. Hockey was surging, with the league adding 4 expansion teams, relocating Minnesota's franchise to Dallas, and major networks airing hockey games. Originally trying to stand alone as a brand, they failed and had to fall back on the Bauer brand. Nike-Bauer sold well, but not well enough. Nike is now selling their hockey division for 200$ million...half of what they paid for it. Their products will be phased out in 2 years.


Registered hockey players in both Canada and the U.S. have declined for the second straight year. Not that big of a deal.

So you might be saying to yourself "Golly gee, looks like hockey ain't what it used to be." Consider THIS.

Here's a slightly racist theory. Most kids aspire to be great athletes in the sport of their choosing. With almost all the top athletes in sports like Football and Basketball being black, hockey is 99.9% white people. Parents might steer their kids towards a sport they know they can excel in, like hockey. If white people don't even get a look because of their skin color in other sports, hockey would at least accept them.


As long as winter is around, hockey will be around. Winter's not going away, so hockey is here to stay. I don't know how this global warming will turn out, but if it means longer winters, then hockey will only grow.


Hockey will weave its way back into the minds of Americans soon. The layoff was a setback, but hockey can recover. With physical sports like MMA growing more and more popular, hockey and its fighting will increase in popularity. Americans demand a physical game, and hockey delivers. With demand only growing for very physical sports, sports like cricket and soccer are unlikely to make their way into the market and establish themselves the way sports like football already have.


I think I've touched on most things. Any others are welcome in the comments.
As for me, it's tough to say. I think hockey's popularity is declining, but hockey will never fade away. As long as batshit crazy countries like Canada are around to support it, I don't expect hockey to go anywhere. Its world popularity will decline if all European Countries have to follow is their own country's shitty leagues where the best players leave to play in North America. They rarely have an occasion to get excited about the sport, and when they do, Canada stomps in and shits all over them.

So what's in store for sports in the future? Who cares, we'll be dead.

So enjoy yourself.


Nazi Synthesizer said...

The best thing about that post is that some bitch gets tea-bagged at the end.

PigBearMan? said...

Oh my god. I haven't read it yet, but I swear to christ that's Manute's sister. Am I crazy?

Nazi Synthesizer said...

she is partial to tea-bagging

Clock Cleaner said...

i like the expression of the other girl. "oh, that's a sight to behold"

somehow i knew that tea-bagging would completely overshadow anything I wrote.

Wally MS said...

The tea-bagging was humourous, and I like the fact that the chick in the background is holding either a crack or weed pipe (which one is it Jordan, is there a difference).

There was however one thing that you missed in your article. You forgot to mention that Gary Bettman is the reason why hockey is failing in the U.S. He's the one that accepted the OLN TV deal, he's the one that accepted expansion teams in non-hockey markets. The teams are medi-ocre but the support is not there. Especially in cities like Atlanta where the NFL, MLB, and NBA already had teams. This puts a financial strain on people if they want to go watch hockey games along with other sports. NHL tickets are more expensive than NFL and MLB (not sure about NBA), which means many people can only afford one or two games a season if they are even interested. I will kudos to the true diehard fans of these clubs are just as fanatic and loyal as Canadian fans or other more established teams. There are not enough of them for the teams to remain viable however.

Bettman has focused most of his efforts on trying to gain a larger fanbase in the States, yet he doesn't understand what they want to see. He thinks he knows what all Americans want to see. But in reality he wants to the form the NHL to make it more appealing to other Americans like himself. He has done this by trying to do away with the one aspect of hockey that, while not central to the game itself, is central to the idea and tradition of hockey: fighting.

Bettman despises fighting as seen by the continued existence of the instigator rule. Bettman thinks hockey is too violent and thus turns Americans off. Are you fucking kidding me? Has he seen the news, watched any movies, played video games or watched any other sports? Americans live on violence. And by removing fighting from the game, most Americans will be turned off because the WANT to see fights. Do you know anyone who has looked away from the screen or gone to the bathroom during a fight? No. Everybody runs to the TV or stops what they are doing at the rink to watch the fight. They cheer, give the two combatants a standing ovation. The whole rink stops to focuse on these two warriors who are part of hockey and should never be removed from the game. When Bettman realizes this hockey has a future. So basically while Bettman is the commissioner of the NHL it is fucked.

The Manute Bol Experience said...

If Bettman wanted fighting gone that badly, I'm sure it would be gone by now. He's been commisioner for about 15 years now (maybe).

I blame the problems more on the owners. Sports commisioners are just puppets, spokesmen for the owners.

PigBearMan? said...

I actually agree with Marc for once. Sadly, more fighting would make hockey more popular. I'm only saying it's sad because people shouldn't just watch the game for fights. That makes you a retard.

As for that post, it was fucked. I didn't know what I was reading until the end.

PigBearMan? said...

And about the second girl in the tea-bag first glance, it looked like she was holding a cross as if the nuts are some kind of satanic creation.

Nazi Synthesizer said...

Weed pipe.

Bettman is pretty much at the hands of the owners. Obviously expansion is in the best interest of any league. It is the key to more money...except Bettman rushed it and now teams are failing, but less so under the cap system. The biggest problem is attendance, and always will be. Retractions probably won't happen...but I think that expansion was rushed...though, into markets where there are high populations, just not a high amount of hockey fans (Tampa Bay is one example). Though it does seem like the longer teams stay in a respective market, the fans warm up to the it by winning or the "novelty" that is hockey. Anaheim is an example of this.

Wally MS said...

I agree that my comment was a little incoherent. No more long comments. They make me hungry.

Anyways, I agree that Bettman is a pawn of the owners, who are the real problem. Owners need to be people who actually care about the sport and the team, not just some rich 90year old who thinks it will be fun to own a team. Case in point Liverpool. Co-owned by two American billionaires. One who actually wants to be the owner, and one who was bored, bought a team and is now bored again after one year. Teams should be owned collectively like the Oilers or the Riders. Owned by people who actually want to see the teams succeed and actually put effort into running a team.

Nazi Synthesizer said...

Interesting idea.

NHL has some really good owners, compared to other sports. I don't think that really anything to complain about.

And Riley, I don't think you are right about the popularity of hockey declining. Maybe in some cities, but the addition of Crosby, Ovechkin, New Rules (shootout), have only increased popularity recently. We will probably never see a time like the early 90's again, but I think hockey is getting more and more popular for the right reasons. Not just because Gretzky got traded to the Kings. Which, in my the only reason we have an extra 5 or 6 American teams in the league now.

But to say that hockey is getting less popular now than before...I don't think so at all. The lockout hurt as well, and the very fact that the NHL is still around after a lost year is quite amazing. And again, I'd credit to a more exciting game all-around, and 2 bona fide superstars in the league again.

Clock Cleaner said...

To say that the league is still around after the lockout is "quite amazing" isn't saying much for the sport. That's actually pretty sad.

You're right, Crosby and Ovechkin and the new rules are revitalizing the game and it is more exciting. Team's fanbases are probably growing and the league is making money.

The popularity of hockey is rising, but it's only slightly regaining the respect it had in the 90's. It used to be the legitimate "4th sport" behind football, basketball and baseball, but now that's quite debatable. With the rise in popularity of sports such as MMA and Soccer, I just don't know if hockey will be able to reach that legitimate "4th sport" spot ever again.

As long the American media thinks hockey is a joke, hockey won't recover. I look on Yahoo Sports Home page and this is just one example, but they've got Headlines that are about college hoops, golf, NFL, college football, NASCAR, and none of the headlines are even mildly importat. No hockey at all. It's stupid really. They just continue to shun hockey despite the fact the playoff races are heating up.

Hockey's popularity might be rising, but it's not rising as fast as the popularity of other sports.

That's my opinion. Wally, you can "demand I apologize for it" if you want. I'll just tell you to fuck yourself this time.

PigBearMan? said...

You know why those headlines are on Yahoo!'s home page? Because those are really fucking big in the States. NFL: Always front page material. College basketball: Are you kidding? March Madness. College football: Probably shouldn't be front page, but NFL draft brings up talk about next year and there are enough fans to support it. NASCAR: More fans than any other sport in America. Most of which follow it like religion. Golf: Tiger Woods. This one is tough to argue for, but being a sport that anyone can play helps it a ton. And Americans do well in it (as compared to hockey, for example).

I don't think American media thinks hockey is a joke, either. I think that they have too many sports to focus on. Just think of all the shit going on right when hockey gets close to/into playoffs: NFL Combine/Draft, March Madness, The Masters, MLB, etc.

That looks like some horrific timing to me. Obviously that doesn't mean that there is no room for mention of hockey in media, but we can't expect it to rank up there with those other things. Hell, I don't want it to surpass any of those on my news headlines.

And Cock Sucker, you're right about the whole "not being #4 ever again" thing. It'll be lucky to be #8. But those other top 7 are so fucking big that it's not necessarily a big deal. As for the lockout comment, he wasn't saying that it was amazing fans started watching again. It's probably not easy to just close up shop for a year and start it back up again with no problems. It was pretty amazing how well it went considering the circumstances.

Clock Cleaner said... you think hockey's popularity is declining or what?

PigBearMan? said...

I think people are worried for no reason. And yes, I rambled.