Doom, Gloom, And Boredom

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by jerseydevil, Dec 26, 2006.

  1. jerseydevil

    jerseydevil Registered User

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    This truly bother me. The NHL is being portrayed so poorly by the media that it is very diificult to attract new fans and put people in the seats. I just finished reading the article on the cover of the Hockey News Website about the NHL. I have never seen a league take a beating like this. Attendance is still up since pre lockout..scoring is up since pre lockout...there are always teams that are going to draw poorly in any league..but that's all they write about in the NHL.

    The NBA has teams that draw poorly, they have teams that relocate, ..but you never read about it. You also rarely read about "boring basketball"...same goes for the NFL and MLB. This is not a thread to compare the TV ratings or the success of each individual league..It's just to point out that 99% of the articles written about hockey are negative. I really don't see why every minute detail of the game is ripped on from the fans to the style of play. It truly is bothersome to a long time hockey fan.

    I love the game...yes, there are a few things that I think they could lighten up on with the officiating...but what sport doesn't have that..(NBA touch fouls, roughing the passer in the NFL, etc)

    I just wish the NHL would be shown in a different light..because I truly believe that it is the most exciting game out there..but most media pundits just don't understand that...
     
  2. Blades of Glory

    Blades of Glory Troll Captain

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    The NHL's image was likely forever killed by the fatal decision to lose a whole season over the CBA. No other sport has ever done that.
     
  3. Crazy_Ike

    Crazy_Ike Cookin' with fire.

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    Some elements of the media have made the conscious decision to go after the NHL. It is deliberate and planned, and nothing the league does can change that until the media decides it has been punished enough.

    Wag the dog situation. It's not the NHL's fault, it's the media's.
     
  4. EbencoyE

    EbencoyE Registered User

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    Unfortunately I think it's the average American mindset that doesn't allow hockey to prosper and why the media treats it the way it does.

    Back when the lockout was announced, I remember reading different reactions on a football forum.

    Most of the reactions included some form of "Who cares about hockey - it's a foreign sport." and other reactions along those lines.

    Unfortunately Americans only care about their own sports which is an obstacle sports like soccer and lacrosse face as well. (Though American Soccer organizations have done a much better job than hockey has and is a reason why soccer will probably overtake hockey in popularity soon.)

    Lacrosse is also doing a good job, because unlike hockey, lacrosse focused on the grassroots expansion and has grown lacrosse tremendously in recent years and has made lacrosse a popular high school sport across the country which is spilling over into the college and pro ranks now.

    Hockey, however, has very little in their backpocket as far as grassroots programs and organizations go. Therefore it as seen as even less of an "American sport" as other non-American sports. Hockey has had a LOT more success on the professional stage though - unfortunately that success is dying like it was just a phase and without proper youth and grassroots involvement, hockey will be passed up by soccer, lacrosse, and other sports in no time.

    The media sees this weakness and is therefore supporting sports it sees more potential in.

    It is worrisome though. It seems like alot of people in the media have it out for hockey for no particular reason at all. Though my theory is that it is usually writers and analysts who didn't grow up with the sport and therefore have no appreciation for it.
     
  5. OnYourIgnoreList

    OnYourIgnoreList Registered User

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    Good post, EbencoyE. I think you're right that the grassroots is where you get fans from. Even with the big three (football, basketball, baseball), some measure of the love of those sports is passed from parents to kids and so on. As you suggest, soccer and lacrosse owe their existence to former players who keep in contact with the game.

    I think the NHL should invest a crapload of money to build rinks in cities that don't have them. Find cities that are within X miles of an NHL team and then offer to build rinks in those cities and help run them. That would be better marketing than any commerical campaign, with a longer payoff. Being from Columbus, I can tell you that this town had 0 hockey consciousness 8 years ago. Once the CBJ were announced, they started to build rinks around the city. I think we had one pre-NHL and now we have 4 or 5 and they are ALWAYS jammed. Every one of those is brimming with kids who are learning to love the sport. The CBJ are still a distant #2 to the other team in town whose name I refuse to say, but in 10 years, if we've got a decent team, this could be a hockey town akin to Minneapolis/St. Paul.

    The NHL should really use the popularity of video games to its advantage too. I got hooked on hockey playing EA Hockey on the Sega Genesis. The NHL ought to work with one of the game studios to basically give away loads of games to kids in NHL cities with lagging fan support. Find some way to give out copies (maybe offer a free copy of the video game if you buy gameday tickets (that way the season ticket holders don't get them because they're already hockey fans). Do that maybe once in every arena in the NHL, maybe more in some markets. I think there's a big opportunity to gain fans by showing them the game, and gaming is a perfect way to do it.
     
  6. Jazz

    Jazz Registered User

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    I have continually made the point that the problem in the US is not simply with the "NHL", but with the sport of "Hockey". Whether it is media agendas and such.

    Thus, it is important that the NHL coordinates a grass-roots program, but not on it's own, but in conjuction with every convievable league or hockey institution in the US. That is, with the AHL, ECHL, USHL, NCAA Hockey, USA Hockey etc etc.

    Even if it is only street or floor hockey (especially in schools) - get kids familiar with the nuances of the sport, so that they don't simply dismiss it when they are older.

    Start with cities/towns where there is any sort of hockey team (at any level) and grow from there.
     
  7. GSC2k2*

    GSC2k2* Guest

    Again with this "grassroots" crap. People post this drivel on here as if they are the first ones to think of it or, at best, that it is a fresh idea.

    I have said it before and I will keep saying it:

    Kids playing hockey has little to do with the popularity of NHL hockey in a marketplace. Long or short term.

    I know that statement tends to short out the "brainpower" of people who have heard the grassroots crapola year after year, but that is the way it is, unfortunately. IMO, of course.

    What kids enjoy at age 10 or 13 or whatever has, more often than not, zip to do with what they enjoy when they become adults or, more importantly, what they are prepared to lay down their cash to enjoy. There are too many intervening factors. For crying out loud, in a mobile society such as ours, a large percentage of kids who play hockey will be living somewhere else by the time they become adults. And that is just a simple argument I came up with off the top of my head with no effort at all while writing this. With a little bit of thought (rather than spouting cliches like "gotta get the kids involved!!!"), one can identify a ton more reasons why this is (and always has been) balderdash.

    EDIT: incidentally, someone mentioned in another thread where this was discussed the idea that encouraging youth hockey will get at least a few kids interested in hockey. I say to that "sure". If you spend $5 million to build rinks and get a couple of hundred kids playing, I'm sure you are bound to have a few that will come to NHL games in their adulthood. What I am saying is that the effect is minimal. Hockey, as is the case for anything, is made popular by virtue of the decision of the ticket-buying public and corporate interests, the vast majority of whom will not have participated in said activity. That applies whether we are talking about hockey, baseball, NASCAR, bull-riding, professional wrestling or what have you. That decision is not made by those groups on the basis of whether they participated in the activity. It is made on the basis of whether it is worthy of their entertainment dollar.
     
    Last edited by moderator : Jan 2, 2007
  8. OnYourIgnoreList

    OnYourIgnoreList Registered User

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    Perhaps in a sense you're right, but there is a big picture to consider.

    No matter how good the "on ice" product is, corporations, channels, etc. are NOT going to invest in anything that has no visibility and generates no interest among the desired market. So while kids/people playing hockey aren't necessarily hockey fans, they are more likely to be.

    Sports get big by becoming cultural, familial and generational. Parents pass on their love of baseball to their kids by taking them to games, teaching them how to keep a scorecard and, believe it or not, getting them involved in Little League. Do all those kids grow up to be season ticket holders or passionate fans of baseball? Clearly not. But they do become familiar with the game - they pay attention to it, maybe only for the World Series or a handful of games a year. Still, they pay attention to it. And that's what makes the game lucrative for advertisers and boradcast networks: not the rabid fans, who will seek out their sport in any way possible, but the fans who will watch a game when they can.

    Those fans HAVE to be given some reason to stop and watch a hockey game when they can also choose to watch poker, World's Strongest Man, etc. They have to feel some connection to the sport. Personally, I could not care less about basball, but I choose to watch games a few times a year because it re-connects me to my grandfather, who taught me the game.

    This is how it works in Canada. Hockey IS culture. It is there from cradle to grave. It is familial and generational. It is a totem that is larger than sport - it stands for connections between parents and kids, etc. THAT'S how you grow a sport, it has to become a touchstone, larger in meaning than just a game. And that cannot be done with simple advertising and "marketing" as we think of it.

    If the grassroots ideas can't work, what's the alternative?
     
  9. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason Registered User

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    Good point. Take soccer as an example. Kids have been playing a serious organized version of the sport really since the 1970s. By that I mean healthy youth leagues, rather competitive high school and college programs, etc.
    How much has that translated into pro success? The MLS is even worse than the NHL as far as being a sports entertainment afterthought.

    IMO, the problem with the NHL is exposure on a national basis. As much as I hate the Leafs, I know damned well they'll be on CBC every Saturday night (thank you CenterIce). Hockey is too divisionally-focused as it stands. Most fans know of some of the stars, but if they aren't coming to your town this year, there goes a big part of the marketing sell.
    Also, there are too many traditional arguements that people just don't want to give up. Doesn't translate well on TV, too many foreigners, boxing on ice, etc. It's all BS. Ever try watching golf on TV? Please tell me you can see the ball before it bounces on the grass, because I sure can't. Foreigners? check out most MLB rosters. Fighting has been curtailed to the point of being a non-issue for the most part.
    Anyway, I'm ranting.
     

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