Failure of Americanization of Hockey

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by Fan101, Feb 18, 2005.

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  1. Fan101

    Fan101 Registered User

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    For "died in the wool fans" like myself and others on this board, NHL hockey will always be our favorite sport. I would rather spend my money on an Isles ticket before any other pro sport.

    1) The NHL's real problem is in drawing fans who are also spending money to see other pro sports.

    2) Obviously the Americanization of pro hockey under Gary Bettman saw alot of success with regional franchises all around the USA along with ESPN and national TV contracts.

    3) Every time a new pro sports arena was built to accommodate basketball, the NHL was right there to add a franchise with 41 home dates.

    4) The NFL has a full slate of games every weekend on all 3 major US networks. NFL is broadcast from Noon Sunday (include pregame show) until 7 PM, plus add the ESPN Sunday NIght Game. The NHL broadcasts mainly on saturday afternnons, from 3pm to 6pm, which was always a low viewership time for all TV programs.

    5) Rising NHL expenses do not only include player salaries, but also arena expenses and promotional advertising expense. The NHL has to essentially compete head to head with the NFL, MLB and NBA for new sports fans.

    6) Add in the fact that the NHL has had a poor rap in the public eye with the violence issue. Also a sport which sells itself on speed and scoring is often played with a low scoring trap style which does not appeal to the non-hockey sports fan.

    7) Owners who have invested in NHL franchises which were valued last season at between 50 million and 200 million dollars are now faced with a very serious problem.

    Consider the fact that every High School and Junior High School in the USA has a football, baseball and basketball team. These three sports are ingrained into American Culture throughout all 50 states, while hockey is not.
     
  2. rwilson99

    rwilson99 Registered User

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    No sources. No coherent arguement. Cliche title. Why can't this be in the rant thread?
     
  3. IronMarshal

    IronMarshal Registered User

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    A lot of this is true, and it is Gary Bettman and the owners fault for overextending themselves. It doesn't matter that now there are so many more very talented players (the addition of the Euros and advances of amateur hockey here in the States), there is no real major market here for hockey. The owners need to develop a market for their product as I said elsewhere. In Philadelphia, Ed Snider built a market for Flyers hockey (not NHL hockey, FLYERS HOCKEY). He established a strong loyal base by appealing to core group of fans who became exceedingly loyal to the Flyers, not necessarily to the NHL. All of this expansion was to grab TV markets. Well, you have to have people in those markets who want to see your product. While I love watching the game on TV, many people have difficulty following the puck and understanding the game. Hockey is not an easy sell on TV, and TV was the only reason for the expansion. There will never be a major TV audience for the NHL. Hockey is too expensive a sport for many people to play, and the further south you go the worse it gets. Basket ball is cheap, soccer (shudder...)is cheap, baseball is cheap, and football teams use the same equipment for many years to defray costs. Hockey equipment is bought by the player (or players parents), ice time must be bought at exorbitant prices. Football, baseball and soccer can be played on a field, basketball hoops are everywhere. Most people can't relate to hockey because they can not experience the joy that it brought most of us.
    For expansion to succeed, it need to be done in baby steps by committed owners who were willing to lose money (seed money) for several years while they developed the market for their product. And part of that is to have a commitment to putting the best possible product on the ice.
    Another thing, with fewer teams, players would have to work harder to get and keep their jobs for the lower market price as well. More supply (players) less demand (number of jobs) would mean lower salaries, and consequentially lower costs to the owners.
    The many expansionshave been a disaster for hockey.
     
  4. GKJ

    GKJ Global Moderator

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    They all have soccer teams too.



    Some schools don't have funding to have a hockey program. To play hockey is very expensive.
     
  5. Pure Slaughter Value

    Pure Slaughter Value Registered User

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    No minorities. Hockey fans understand how incredibly diverse the sport is with the amount of nationalities present. A lot of the US just see white people. There's no blacks, hispanics, etc which make up a part of the US populace.

    If there was affirmative action in hockey the sport would be much more popular in certain parts of the US...
     
  6. PhillyNucksFan

    PhillyNucksFan Registered User

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    sadly, so true.
     
  7. NJD Jester

    NJD Jester Registered User

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    Yet as violence has decreased over the last decade, so has the NHL's market share.

    Funny, ain't it?
     
  8. Cully9

    Cully9 Registered User

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    Just a note that I found interesting, as it relates to the failure of expansion:

    In Sports Illustrated's 50th anniversary issue, they had results for a number of polls that they had commissioned. One of them asked, "Which sport, that you hated 10 years ago, do you love now?" Hockey ranked third, behind NASCAR and golf. Even if the quality of play has declined, expansion sure seems to have brought it's share of converts, so I wouldn't classify it as a disaster.

    To me, it sets the base for the future growth of the league (and that doesn't mean more teams).
     
  9. dolfanar

    dolfanar Registered User

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    That's not entirely true. There have been more than a few african-amercans/canadians, very successful ones to play the game, especially in the last 10 years. The problem is that they are not marketed at all, and the fact that they are "coloured" (I hope that's not an offensive use of the word) is hidden by equipment. Often times I can hear of a player for years before realizing he is black, or of indian or asian descent.

    The question is, how do you market these players without it coming off as exploitive?
     
  10. futurcorerock

    futurcorerock Registered User

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    I'm going to go ahead and take a crack at every point. I consider myself in the same boat, though i disagree with you.

    No, this facilitates to your claim that we're in direct competition with other sports. At this point the NHL should be happy to get any money, like a ******* stepson that won't go away.

    True

    That they were, but out of practicality. Not every team has a Basketball/Hockey combo. The last two expansion franchises came in to the league infact have their own dedicated hockey-first arenas. The Xcel Center and Nationwide arena facilitate to hockey's needs first. Though, some people say they should be contracted. Then again i think they shouldnt even be allowed to post.

    You also forgot to mention the NFL has a 16-game schedule which makes the importance of such games that much more important.
    Yes and No - The NHL does fairly well with sponsorship.

    This will be fixed with a new CBA, though I think right now hockey isn't the worst bad boy sport. Ron Artest and the Rock'em Sock'em Pacers would dispute your claim. Then, look at baseball. They are once again at risk of being discredited by their own fans. Imagine if they rewrote their own recordbooks with asteriks and the like... to me their credibility would be dead on the spot.

    Hence why we're locking out our players. Health of the games depends on the owners, sad to say.

    This is a nice issue you touched up on. The reason these sports are in High School is their relative inexpense of operation. It's always been known that Canada's Game hasnt been cheap. With the US Educational system looking a little sick in the stomach, it's hard for schools to cough up the money to make bus trips to the ice rink and fully suit 22 players.

    I attest because I come from such set of schools, I'm currently at Ohio State where I have no problem finding a rink and skating, but where I come from you're right... Football, Basketball, and Baseball reign supreme. But even now Baseball is slowly catching up. There wasn't even a Lacrosse team at my school or schools around it. A neighboring community has watched its school cut their entire athletics and music programs because a school levy couldnt pass due to the economic hardships they faced. With poverty setting in, I'd never imagine hockey picking up here.

    It's been well documented that the social economic landscape of professional players as they enter college/pros for the big sports is very much out of whack. You have third-world countries producing ball stars who barely have equipment to play. The inner-city produces a slew of basketball stars. And Florida, Texas and California produce endless amounts of football stars from schools where football is their lives.

    Though, with such discrepencies, a big boom of community leagues has come up around Columbus since the days of the ECHL's Columbus Chill. One thing to realize is, is that it takes time to develope a market into a real hockey producer. We're just now seeing Los Angeles and Pittsburgh producing great NHL prospects, and would you have said 50 years ago that Los Angeles, which has temperatures WARMER than South Florida to be a hockey market?

    In the end, I think Bettman's expansion has some successes. Columbus, Minnesota, Dallas, San Jose would be what I call successes. However, he made some poor decisions in looking at a market that could guarantee success. Carolina, Florida, Atlanta. But, i didnt list Tampa Bay, who lies as an anomaly. I think they could be added to the list of successes in the end.

    What you people forget is that these expansions/relocations were risks. Businesses take risks to try to see if they can expand on their cut of the pie. Right now it's hard to tell where they stand in the end. Their certainly is probability that the NHL can come out of this with 30 healthy franchises all with a chance to compete. I believe that, because a lot of people gave up on the "bad" franchises very quickly.
     
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