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From The Press Box: Hockey Is No Fun

The bad news is that a 2012 study found a new barrier affecting hockey’s growth, but the good news is that hockey’s growth depends on you and me.

Hockey is no fun?

Really? Who would say that?

That was my first reaction when I saw the results of a 2012 study that Hockey Canada and Bauer conducted about growing the game of hockey.

I have been involved in the game in one way or another since I was seven. I spent hundreds of hours yelling “caaarrrrr” and dreaming of scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal. I was never any good and I am still not any good, but man do I have fun being involved in hockey.

Like many of you, I have coached (Peewee AAA, Midget House), volunteered at tournaments, and play in adult leagues. My adult rec team has been together since 1996. Everyone on the team will agree that the one thing they hear from me more than anything is my bemoaning of the schedule – why are there so many late games on weeknights, on Grey Cup and Super Bowl Sundays, on Remembrance day and Thanksgiving Sunday? All of those questions swirl in my head every year, but you know what? When I get to the rink at 10:30 p.m. on a Monday, passion and excitement take over, and I have a ton of fun.

I experienced the same feelings when I coached Midget House league games at 9 p.m. an hour from home. It was exciting to work on new plays, help kids get better, laugh with them when they tripped over the blue line and (hopefully) help them be better men, all while having fun.

My response to the 2012 research changed from “who would say that?” to “ok, I get it” after I gave it a more thorough read.

When I first heard of the study, my assumption was that the perceived barriers to being involved in hockey would include cost and maybe safety, but fun, or lack thereof, never crossed my mind.

In a snapshot, the study focused on finding out why Canadians involved in organized sports chose not to participate in hockey. Here was the number one perceived barrier, as stated in the survey:

1. Hockey’s not perceived to be fun

  • Parents said the sport is too competitive and too intense with ‘crazy hockey parents’

  • Nearly every other sport in this research, such as soccer and baseball, was described as ‘fun’ by respondents

The reason we get up in the morning at HockeyNow is simple. We love hockey – and our focus every day is to help grow the game, support the game and inform readers. All of us are involved in hockey in one capacity or another and would likely agree with this sentiment.

So it makes me wonder how we, as hockey-loving Canadians deeply involved in the game, can help debunk the myth of the number one perceived barrier and show Canadians not involved in hockey that it’s actually a ton of fun.

Maybe one way to start is to lighten up a little if we fail – whether it’s the World Jr. team not medaling last year (man that was too bad) or even our kids who only make the Atom A team instead of the AAA team. Maybe as parents, we can make sure our kids don’t feel like failures if they get cut as 10-year-olds, or maybe we can make sure that the kid at the end of the cul-de-sac who doesn’t play hockey gets invited to the learn-to-skate event at the local rink. Who knows, maybe that kid is an unreal soccer player, cricket enthusiast and one crazy good athlete, who if exposed to hockey becomes a first round pick in 2020, or maybe he plays house hockey for 10 years and grows as a person and community leader.

I was talking to a friend the other day that isn’t necessarily a huge hockey fan and she asked me “what is fun about hockey?” Honest question and it caught me a bit off guard, but “what do you mean” I asked her, you don’t know?” She’s never been involved. Hockey is fun: putting the gear on and chatting about the horrible effort from last weeks game, or helping a 10 year old get their gear on, driving to the rink with a buddy and chatting about your hockey pool and then when you are 5 minutes away and realize you haven’t figured out the lineup yet, or watching your nieces on a frozen lake with figure skates on and an old hockey stick in hand asking you to play pass…it’s just a lot of fun.

If we want our game that we love to be strong in 20 years from now coaches, players, parents and all involved in minor hockey need to ask a hard question in the mirror: if a stranger mirrored our every move for a week at all of our hockey functions, would they say we looked like we were having fun? People who have never played hockey are not going to take it up and become part of the fabric of our nation if they look around at all the hockey people and don’t see a lot of fun being had, why would they? Would you?

It’s on us who are involved in hockey right now to make sure that our fellow non-involved Canadians know that hockey is FUN.

Remember – enjoy every trip to and from the rink, even for a 10:30 p.m. game on a Monday night.


Tags: minor hockey

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