Instead of trying to get kids into the system we should be getting adults to skate.

Discussion in 'The Rink' started by HugoSimon, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. HugoSimon Registered User

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    The biggest obstacle to the popularity of hockey isn't the cost of playing the game. It is the notion that you need to play the game to appreciate it.

    In my opinion we need to create more appreciation for the act of skating and need not be so worried about whether or not some kid is living the dream. It is my belief that simply putting on a pair of skates is enough to create a tremendous appreciation for the sport.

    The cold weather culture phenom is missing the point. If you live in the north learning to skate is seen as no different than learning to ski etc. If the league pushed skating as a relatively common and accessible sporting activity it'd go a long way of growing the game.

    Hockey is the pinnacle of winter sports and we should stop trying to treat the game like it's some wholesome american past time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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  2. Filthy Dangles .

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    Recreational ice skating and public ice skating sessions are a pretty common thing in a lot of places, so the idea that that translates into a passion for hockey, a game which also happens to be played on ice skates, seems unfounded.
     
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  3. Uberdachen Posts Last 5 Minutes

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    The biggest obstacle to the popularity of hockey is tucking it away on pay channels so only people who seek it out will ever be able to watch it with any kind of regularity that might lead to interest.
     
  4. Legionnaire Help On The Way Sponsor

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    I have friends that play and don't watch nor care about the NHL.
     
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  5. Esq in terrorem Sponsor

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    The biggest obstacle is that, across Europe and NA, there are relatively few people that have access to ice at low or no cost. Many more people have free access to a field or basketball court.
     
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  6. Sugi21 Registered User

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    Oh no it’s the cost of playing hockey don’t kid yourself! Unfortunately a lot of families just don’t have the budget to put kids through hockey. Sad to say but it’s becoming a rich kids sport now in my neck of the woods hockey fees start at $600 and go up to $1050 that’s for 1 kid so imagine you have multiple kids playing? Throw in equipment, travel expenses, and extra clinics like power skating/hockey camps it all adds up! Canada is pricing out it’s future generations of players that’s why my kids play soccer now it’s hell of cheaper and most of all they have fun playing it... don’t get me started on the hockey parents who kill any love for the game in their children with their antics!!! I’ve seen enough Dad’s berate their sons in the locker room to the point of tears it’s sad but it happens everywhere not to mention the racism that happens in the rinks, ref abuse it goes on!
     
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  7. tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    I’m not sure I’d focus too tightly on adults. To me the important thing is, the focus needs to come off the elite youth pipeline and be more about accessibility and general participation in the sport. That means rinks full of both youth and adults.
     
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  8. Filthy Dangles .

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    Here in the US, even sports like baseball and basketball (a lot more popular than hockey) are predominantly broadcasted on regional sports networks....Only the NFL is regularly broadcasted on OTA TV Channels that can be picked up by an antenna

    So good luck with that....there is not a market to have NHL games regularly scheduled on Channel 4 NBC and stations like that.
     
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  9. JT Kreider FIRE GORDIE CLARK

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    So true. Ironically the best kids I ever played with knew nothing about the NHL and still don't to this day
     
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  10. haveandare Registered User

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    The biggest obstacle is 100% the cost imo. Families get into it when the kids get into it.

    Something like 40% of Americans don’t have 1k in savings. You can bet a lot more than that don’t have the extra money to put their kids into hockey when they can go into soccer or basketball for a fraction of the cost.
     
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  11. HugoSimon Registered User

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    So you're making the claim that there is no relation to the number of availible rinks(of whatever kind) and the popularity of the NHL?

    On a base level there has to be a correlation between number of rinks in an area and the popularity of the sport.
     
  12. HugoSimon Registered User

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    90 to 95 percent of people will never become pro athletes on the basis they lack the genetics for competitive play.

    NHL arenas are not filled with children even if they were those children are certainly not paying for those tickets.
     
  13. haveandare Registered User

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    Who said anyone needs to be a pro to enjoy the game or be interested in it?!

    Children do grow up. The arenas are very significantly filled with people who have been interested in the sport since childhood.
     
  14. HugoSimon Registered User

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    Because people are trying to compare playing competitive hockey with playing the game on a pond.

    Interested in the sport or who played the game in the modern context?
     
  15. Porter Stoutheart Join the Dark Side

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    I think a lot of these things need to be separated out.

    If you are talking popularity of the game in Southern markets, ok, maybe having some additional familiarity might make a small dent. But mostly people like a Good Show, and if the games are entertaining and fun and your team is doing well, that's probably a much bigger driver than if people have played or skated themselves.

    If you are talking how you get players into the game and produce better quantity and quality of professional players, then cost is absolutely the driver. Cost excludes most potential athletes from even considering hockey, and then again excludes many more from pursuing higher levels of play once they are in the game.
     
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  16. HugoSimon Registered User

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    I never thought of it as an either or situation.

    I think part of appreciating a good show is having a value for how hard skating is and the ability to see skating itself as a part of ones life.



    Yeah I'm not really a fan of the idea that there is a shortage of talented players. In my opinion it appears the talent is what is pushing down enrollment rates. All the evidence that I can see is that each year players get taller faster strongy better trained and are arriving from a wider subset of countries.
     
  17. Yukon Joe Registered User

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    I don't know - I was a fan of the NHL long before I started playing hockey.

    Learning to play hockey as an adult has certainly made me a much "smarter" hockey fan - I used to just watch the puck before, but now I can also watch the play away from the puck and appreciate it. But I'm a fan of football even though I've never played that sport.
     
  18. abo9 Registered User

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    For context I live in Canada, am 24 and resided in both Ontario and Quebec, so my opinion will reflect my personal experience which will differ from tropical places I am sure.

    Idk where that comes from. I know plenty of people who love hockey but never had the chance to play because their parents thought the cost of playing was too much. Now as adults, most try to play but the learning curve is too high and give up. So I'd have to agree that there is a market for adults who want to learn hockey. However, they already love the sport.

    Kids playing hockey usually have parents that looooove hockey, because they sacrifice a lot to play (like tropical vacations and ski days for example). One of the problems lies in teaching a kid how to skate: If the parent can't skate, they will not bring their kid skating and can't teach them for free, so they need expensive coaches (or friends i guess). Imo, if hockey was the cost of say soccer (football), parents would let the kid play what the kid wants (for the most part).

    I completely agree with the bolded. Especially in the Toronto area, I find a lot of people want to register their kids into a sport for the chance they make a living out of it (???). And recreational players are treated like second class citizens in the organized hockey sphere. And while recreational organized hockey is expensive (about $1000 per year if not more), competitive hockey is CRAZY expensive, and thats not even "elite", I'm talking CC, BB level lol.

    Also, in winter climates, we have the luxury of going outside 3 months/year and skate for free, which makes it more manageable to people to go skate more often. But the cost of maintaining an arena is high, so idk how expensive skating sessions are in warm places but I'm sure it's not an attractive price if you want to make it a regular activity. Meanwhile, going outside to kick a ball cost zero.


    Point is, by reducing the cost of playing hockey, it removes a substantial barrier of entry. After that, it's anyone's guess what happens to the popularity of the game but it probably improves by a lot
     
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  19. puckpilot Registered User

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    I don't know. How many people on this site are hockey fans, yet have never played the sport or even skated. My impression is lots.

    I know lots of players who are at best casual fans of the NHL. And I know people who have never really touched the ice and/or have no interest in doing so, but are huge hockey fans. So I don't think having skated or being a skater correlates into becoming a hockey fan.

    I used to golf a lot, but it never translated into me being anything more than having a passing interest in it. I played basketball growing up more than I played hockey, but I have no interest in the NBA.
     
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  20. TheBluePenguin Registered User

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    People who do not think cost is the one of the biggest if not the biggest deterrent to growing the sport are completely wrong.

    I help run a learn to Play program at one of the local clubs here in St Louis. And St Louis has a huge hockey community compared to most non border states. I have players that have been in my program for multiple years because their fame just cannot afford to pay $1000 club, $300 Jersey, $100 volunteer hours, PLUS equipment, then LtP is just 200 and you get to burrow the gear ....

    Adult playing is almost as expensive to start, even at a Play it Again used shop your going to pay a $200 to $300 to get everything needed to play.

    To have a kid play any level of youth hockey is basically pay to play, if you want your kids to continue to grow he will also need extra camps and training. My oldest boys hockey cost more then all 3 of my kids soccer($125) and baseball($150) combined.
     
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  21. Cams Registered User

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    I'm late to this thread, but found it and wanted to comment on the OPs post....

    1) Cost may not be an obstacle in terms of popularity - but it sure is for playing, even at the grass roots level. Registration in my area (Windsor, Ontario) for house league has to be around $600. Then you have to constantly buy your kid new gear (they grow) and it gets quite expensive even for entry level equipment. Even at an adult level, it is an expensive sport - rec leagues have entry fees, ice time is getting stupid expensive, plus again....you need the equipment. I'm lucky (I think), I am 46 and played since I could walk. I have just been playing pick up for the last 10 years. My pants are probably 20 years old (Takla), elbow pads are super old too. I however am probably needing new skates, and that's going to be close to $400.

    The second part of this - the notion that you need to play to appreciate it.... no, you don't. I know some crazy big hockey fans - love the game, love their team, and are super knowledgeable about hockey, and many of them have never put on a pair of skates. Even if Joe Public "played" doesn't really mean anything.....I think you would have to have played at a certain level to appreciate details that the non playing fan wouldn't even notice.

    2) Being one who grew up "in the north" I can tell you there are many who learn to skate, but that doesn't really mean they will be hockey fans. Recreational skating is accessible, and if you live in a region ( I don't really) where you have frozen ponds/rivers/etc for a good portion of the winter, it is a fun activity - but again, that doesn't mean "hockey".

    3) What about other "winter" sports? What makes hockey better than skiing, speed skating, curling? That's an opinion base comment. Use the Olympics as an example......I watch both, but prefer the winter games........I never cared about hockey in the winter games much until the NHL starting participating....and without the NHL players, I really don't care the hockey event(s).

    3b) No offense to any Americans on here, but when has hockey ever been considered an American past time? Isn't that baseball? From a Canadian perspective (and one who loves on the border with the US), hockey is generally so far down the list for most Americans. Sports like baseball, basketball, NASCAR, football (eye poppingly so) are much more "past time" than hockey is, whereas here in Canada, hockey is like a religion to many, but not all.

    The biggest obstacle to hockey is getting new fans on board, and getting it on TV. Seems like your over the air channels (even here in Canada) don't show much sports anymore, it's all cable, specialty channels that broadcast now. I think here, you have CBC on Saturday night for regular season, and they show playoffs during the weekdays. Everything else - it's TSN or SportsNet.
     
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  22. 405Exit Registered User

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    facts...... you know how many figure skaters I know who don’t even know who Sidney Crosby is? I can name 22 just in my coffee group On the weekends.
     
  23. Claudi27 Registered User

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    No. Cost of an equipment set is the biggest obstacle.
     
  24. Solmors Registered User

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    I'm going to have to disagree with you there. I am 33 and just signed up for a learn to play/skate class for the first time in my life despite hockey being my favorite sport to watch since I was 8 years old. The reason I never played before is because ice time is absurdly expensive for most people, not to mention the equipment. I looked into learning and playing in Sacramento, where I went to high school, college, and lived until recently, and found out it was $750+ per season to play in any of their leagues. I grew up in a middle income family and it was too expensive for us, that means it will be too expensive for the vast majority of the population.

    My learn to play class is $350 for 12 sessions, $29 per session. Compare that to the men's soccer league I play in which cost $35 for the 12 game season, $3 per game. The only reason I can afford to play hockey now is I have a 6 figure salary and don't have a family or mortgage.
     
  25. jayarebee Registered User

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    Ice hockey has been and always will be one of the most expensive sports to play. I was very fortunate my parents let me play... but it was either braces or hockey, I chose hockey, dad chose hockey, mom wasn't happy... so I'm stuck with my overcrowded English inherited teeth :D

    I remember back in 1991 when I did my first clinic, 1 week of 1.5hr sessions for beginners and it was around $250-300... at the time I guess that was steep but seems reasonable now. I played travel through the 90's, and the tuition was $2K+ a season and by the time I was done @ Bantams/Midgets it was roughly $4k a season. Plus my high school was a club team not supported by our school so we paid $1,000 a family/player.. of course 2 years after I graduated the school/town started funding the team 100%, which lured more players and even coaches as the coach position was a paid position but not the rates the guys are getting now... team's had the same assistant for 13 years while 5 different head coaches have rotated through.

    When I started there were quite a few house leagues, you started in those as Mites (early as age 4), most parents just waited until their kid was about 5-6 to sign them up for hockey, they usually let them just public skate and occasionally practice. Back in 93-94 I was the ONLY kid my age in my grade, in my entire town that played club hockey... by 98-99 a few other kids started ice hockey as hockey was always popular, people just couldn't afford to play it... As a freshmen in 99-00 I was one of two club players who made Varsity, the other being a kid my age who went to private school and started playing in middle school. He instantly became my best friend as we had mutual friends, actually met once or twice, just never knew about one another playing hockey.

    My first year playing HS Varsity hockey in NJ 99-00 season we had roughly 70 teams in the State (Varsity both Public & Private). When I graduated in 2002-2003 that season NJ had over 110 Varsity programs, and a heckload more JV/Independent/Girls teams not in that total. I thought the sport had blown up... but after Coaching from 2005-2008 I saw the game was similar to the 90's player wise, popularity had grown but there were not as many clubs. I went back to coaching 3-4 years ago and was AMAZED how many traveling clubs there were, it was like 2x as many as the 90's... and quite a few more than 2008.

    But I returned to coach in 2015 and holy heck, basically a traveling club in every town, whether it was a "town" team or a new club that popped up. One thing I noticed was clubs were taking EVERY kid they could get at the Mite level, some clubs had over 5-6+ Mite Squads (10-11 players). I never played half-ice Mites as we played full-ice in the mid 90's.. don't know when they changed to half ice.. I just know my father would have waited til full ice @ Squirts because the half-ice is both good and bad. Good for new players, kids to just have fun, bad because one size does NOT fit all.. just like the full-ice "reasoning" it only takes 1 player to ruin a game, and with half the ice that 1 kid is going to probably score twice as much compared to full ice... I saw a lot of kids upset, want to quit, so I'm not always on-board with half-ice Mites, especially in their last year before Squirts. I just think they should be exposed to more full-ice activities and see more black pucks, not those goofy blue ones. We're halfway through our 1st full-ice season with the kids I've coached the last 2 years and there are still a few scared of the black puck.. unfortunately 1 being the goalie :(


    There is no wrong age to start playing hockey. However, I will disagree with the NHL's slogan "Hockey is for Everyone".... Yes, obviously it should be. But I remember growing up and always being told "Hockey is NOT for everyone.." and that was a huge motivator. Not many kids quit, at least not until they got older and burnt out or just didn't have teams to play for come high school. I sadly see way too many kids signing up to play for competitive clubs/teams and have absolutely no interest in the sport halfway through the season. These kids get great training, parents pay a crapload, probably 2x as much as when I played... and will let their kids stay home for away games, or rather let them play flag football on a Saturday afternoon and miss their hockey game.. hurting the rest of the team when only 11 skaters show up.

    I love the sport, I love how it's grown, but I think the best thing to do is have your kids start skating whenever they want after age 4-5, let the do camps, clinics, just skate, most importantly try and find a house-league. There is no sense signing up for a traveling Mite team IMO, not at least until they are 6-7-8 years old... new players and new parents to hockey start to understand the commitment required, the travel, and it all adds up. Plus it doesn't matter where they play before Squirts and Full-Ice... No Scores are recorded for any 8u, all games use running clocks, no penalties, rarely Officials (usually 10 year olds reffing.. basically just dropping a puck once, and "babysitting).

    Come ages 7-8 maybe think about if the player wants to just have fun or be competitive, obviously not an easy question... really up to the parents. Don't waste thousands on tuition if the kids are just "trying" the sport out. You can try it out finding a local non-travel house-league, or even playing for your town's youth team... and there are so many nowadays. Nobody gets turned away from playing anymore which is great, especially for the younglings. But sadly come Squirts & PeeWees they learn they need to be competitive if they want to play, and that really upsets some of them... Also the kids with the parents who aren't willing to drive 60min to games and have bad attendance records will likely get cut at some point... which stinks for the kid.

    Hockey is fun and it should be meant for everyone, but I'll still say it's not exactly a sport for everyone.. it's tough, expensive, and takes tons of work simply to learn to skate before even putting the stick in the hand. I see way too many kids coming to the LTP Learn to Play clinics who have never ice skated before in their life.. I've given private lessons to kids who's parents refuse to let their kids play hockey before they know how to skate. Whether if it's because they want the best for the kid or just don't want to have them embarrassed.

    So whatever age, just learn to ice skate first... pick up the stick and gear later if you think you are going to enjoy it... and believe me, 99% of people will LOVE it once they know how to properly skate. My father told me I had to learn how to skate backwards before he would sign me up for a travel tea.. so every Sunday I was at the public skates whipping around skating backwards, usually getting yelled at by skate guards, but by the time I tried out I was skating backwards better than forwards.. and for that landed me a career as a defensemen, basically had a spot reserved every year on the roster because young kids don't like playing defense as they want to be the goal scorers.. heck I loved defense, and I couldn't wait until PeeWee level (when we could still body-check)... Awesome sport, I wouldn't trade it in for anything in the world. I tried lacrosse, truly enjoyed it and wasn't half bad, tried baseball, was decent but BORING, and stayed away from football because half my class played and about 50% of them had broken limbs by 8th grade. Only other sport I truly loved and played as much as possible was Golf... and learning to play golf around 9-10 years old I learned to control my temper and be somewhat "professional"....
     
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