Nationality and US popularity

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Hockey Forum' started by obsenssive*, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. obsenssive*

    obsenssive* Guest

    Is it wrong to say that the reason the main stream society in the United States largely ignores hockey because it is seen as "un-american"?

    In 1999-2000 12% of the NHL was American. Now a decade later its almost doubled to 22% in 09-10. That is good progress, yet it's still quite small. American stars have emerged, like big buff, pavelski, kane, kesler, brown, dubinsky etc. who hopefully can change the tides.
    however, American teams mostly rely on foreign talent to score goals and win games.

    I have seen many a broadcast from a US market where they talk incessantly about the "americans" in the particular game. *coughVERSUS* almost mental gymnastics when its obvious that the majority of the players are for instance french canadian, or slavic, or scandinavian. they seem to try to divert the audience attention away from these non-anglo names by "promoting" even obscure american players, like that Chris Clark is from Connecticut, said THREE TIMES in a single game last week on versus.


    so for americans: would an increase in both the number of US players and stars in the NHL affect its popularity there?
     
  2. IU Hawks fan

    IU Hawks fan They call me IU

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    I still think the main reason it isn't as big as the other 3 is because kids gravitate to follow what they play and continue on into adulthood. Until playing hockey is as accessible as basketball, baseball, and to a lesser extent football (while most kids don't play organized football, virtually everyone plays touch football with their friends growing up) it isn't going to be at the same level. Which is quite a shame, obviously, as our sport is way faster and more exciting than all the others.
     
  3. MAROONSRoad

    MAROONSRoad f/k/a Ghost

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    It's an interesting question. Regarding the bolded comment above, I have also noticed that on American broadcasts they often -- and I mean very often -- like to mention that such and such player played for this or that US college program -- i.e., Jonathan Toews, a University of North Dakota product...

    GHOST
     
  4. htpwn

    htpwn Registered User

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    That could be partly due to the fact that sports such as basketball and football place great emphasis on a player's college program. Maybe a trickle down effect of sorts?
     
  5. rgb63

    rgb63 Registered User

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    This.
     
  6. GreatCanadian

    GreatCanadian Registered User

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    I notice that in Canadian broadcasts too though. RDS tends to highlight the Quebec-born players, and TSN like to talk about Western Canadian or Southern Ontario boys...

    I think they all do it.

    I think it is so the people watching get a "connection" of sorts, so they know there's someone out there from their region, to keep their interest and get them to cheer for someone if they are new to the sport.
     
  7. MoreOrr

    MoreOrr B4

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    I don't think you can point to just one factor.
    1. Not a sport that most people in the US have easy access to.
    2. Logically following from the first, yes there isn't a huge number of US-born players in the League, though that is slowly changing.
    3. And as someone else suggested, probably not having a widespread college presence, as does football for example, could be another factor.
    4. And it's an expensive sport to play, so with all the other options that are already popular in the US, hockey gets left aside.
     
  8. Fugu

    Fugu Guest

    I think this is true too. We're accustomed to hearing something about the player, especially since NFL is king, so there's always the college connection (NCAA Bowls and such).

    Regarding the other part about having kids make that connection because they play a game, I heard an interesting comment the other day in a meeting with my banker. He's not originally from Michigan or a hockey-playing area. He said he had a hard time telling Michiganders apart from Canadians from Ontario (for example-- in terms of general interest). Normally the hockey interest would do it but Michigan being a huge hockey region negated that effect. So we get back to the culture of an area, and at least historically, the climate. Back in the days when everyone could play outside, they did. It may be too warm to make that backyard rink anymore (we tried, it's too warm), but the fact that we thought it was something we should do was somehow ingrained. The next step is to build the ice rinks to take the place of what many of us had taken for granted as kids.

    I think that's the breach that exists, not between the US and Canada, but between the colder states/Canada and the warmer ones where ice was never a natural occurrence. How this all translates into a media strategy though, imo, has more to do with that Olympic mentality and building on nationalism.
     
  9. CC Chiefs*

    CC Chiefs* Guest

    The biggest problem I see with hockey is cost. How many American kids have a pair of skates? And how many get new skates every year as their feet grow?

    For the most part a baseball glove is one size fits all. One kid having a football can entertain a whole neighborhood, same thing with a basketball.
     
  10. 29dryden29

    29dryden29 Registered User

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    I find the biggest issue with hockey in the US is cost. it is primarily an upper middle class to upper class sport when you look at the cost of the gear compared to other sports. Baseball for example a pair of cleats and a glove a couple hundred bucks. A pair of skates will more than likeley trump that price right off the hop. Basketball a pair of shoes and a ball again 2 to 300 tops you can be looking at 1000 bucks and more to outfit your kids in hockey equipment. I know friends that won't even watch the game because they don't want their kids to get interested because they don't want to pay the 500 dollar registration fee or pay for equipment.
     
  11. MoreOrr

    MoreOrr B4

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    I agree that cost is almost certainly an issue, but really for it to be an issue first the sport has to be considered as an option. It's only those who consider it as an option who then encounter the cost reality. I'd say that there are a few other factors that come first, in which hockey is less likely even considered by many people in many parts of the US as a sports option.
     
  12. Fugu

    Fugu Guest


    Can't these be related, even with the most basic equipment? You need skates to consider playing (and then be "able" to skate). Then you have to add the sticks and basic equipment. Cost may preclude it from consideration at the outset.

    I got my first pair of skates when I was 8 or 9, but only because we had the local park making rinks outside. If the natural environment hadn't allowed for it, I'm not sure where I could have tried skating. (I grew up in greater Chicagoland.)
     
  13. cbcwpg

    cbcwpg Registered User

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    Hockey is not un-american, its just un-accessible for a lot of people.

    Nationality has nothing to do with it IMO. You play sports ( if you are so inclined ) that you have access to and can afford. I was born in Canada, so I grew up playing hockey, but my son plays baseball as well, because the baseball program has grown here . If I had been born in Texas I most likely would have played football as a kid, if I had been born in India I would have played cricket or Kabaddi.

    You play what is locally accessible.
     
  14. MoreOrr

    MoreOrr B4

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    Simple question then: So, people in Canada are significantly financially more well off than people in the US?
     
  15. Confucius

    Confucius Registered User

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    Not only cost to the individual but cost to the community. Toronto for example has over 100 indoor sheets of ice. How much would it cost a city in the U S to supply the same amount of ice for their residents?
     
  16. TaketheCannoli

    TaketheCannoli RIP

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    From my experience, even though sports of any kind are huge business AND most of my friends are sports fans of some type, most people I meet are not interested in sports, or at best just casually or socially.

    I live in an area known for intense love for college football and basketball, Columbus, Ohio home of The Ohio State University. Most people I meet are not avid Ohio State fans. They don't make it a consuming passion, but many do enjoy the parties and social life that can center around this. In spite of this, every one of the 105,000 seats are sold out for every game in Ohio Stadium "The Horseshoe."

    The same could be said for the NFL locally. Most people aren't interested.

    I get the same tepid response to NHL hockey, NBA basketball, the PGA TOUR and NASCAR minus the social aspect. I have never experienced any form of nationalism or jigoism in sports locally.

    From a college or university perspective, about the only time I've regularly heard a player's college regularly named was several years ago when RJ Umberger played for the Flyers. Jim Jackson, the Flyers play by play guy on Comcast would regularly say, "RJ Umberger from THE Ohio State University." If I didn't follow local sports, watching the local NHL broadcasts I would have never known Ryan Kesler played there too. In other words, the local outlet Fox Sports Ohio doesn't mention college or universities much. They usually mention a player's hometown, especially when they play in their home area. Last night, they mentioned Steve Mason's family and friends bought 80 tickets in the A.C.C. to see Mason or Nash's family in Brampton buying many seats vs. the Leafs. They made a big deal out of Huselius, Pahlsson and Stralman playing at "home" when the Blue Jackets opened in Stockholm. They play up Voracek's Czech background and did a few stories on his friendship with Ondrej Pavelic, especially after Pavelic had that scare early this season. The Flyers broadcasts rarely even mention that JVR grew up in the general area. Most of the attempts at connection in both broadcast crews seem to be centered around eithe rht ehuman touch- Flyers Wives Charities, Blue Jackets Foundation to support pediatric cancer care, and of course rivalries- Flyers-Rangers/Pens/Devils etc. Blue Jackets= Wings/Preds/Blues etc.

    When I listen to Andrew Krystal or Bob McCown I hear many comments and callers that seem to see things from a nationalist view.
     
  17. Fugu

    Fugu Guest

    Not sure how you got from point A to your point B. I wouldn't have taken the same line.

    People in Canada and northern US climates are accustomed to winter weather and doing things outside despite the cold. If the water and weather are warm, you swim in it. If it's frozen, you slide on it. That's why skiing is popular in hilly and mountainous areas-- opportunity.



    Just to stress though that this was an evolutionary process. When more people lived in rural areas, it was the frozen pond in the field. Then the move to cities came, and backyard rinks took the place of the frozen ponds and lakes (unless you lived by one of these). Over time, since skating on ice was a cultural adaptation (for lack of a better word), people invested in indoor rinks so they could continue to enjoy their favorite activity-- previously only available outdoors.

    The demand had to be there, and the community's desire to prioritize the expenditure. In the US, the communities may opt to build a 10K seat stadium for their high school, and after the pools are built for the swimmers, there's not enough money left for the ice rinks (or no one is asking for these to be built).
     
  18. MoreOrr

    MoreOrr B4

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    You just answered how I got from "point A to point B". It's not that hockey is less expensive for Canadians (though perhaps creating ice conditions in order to play hockey might be less expensive), nor that Canadians necessarily have more money to spend on hockey equipment. It's that more of a priority is put on hockey. It's all in where you prioritize your money to be spent. In general, it seems more likely that an average Canadian would decide to spend more on hockey equipment (for themselves or for their kids) than the average person in the US. Hockey has a lower priority in the US, whereas other sports are more likely to get the attention... So therefore, even if hockey gets considered, it's an easy decision to exclude it because, yes it's expensive and because it was never a high priority to begin with.
     
  19. Ignoramus*

    Ignoramus* Guest

    I think this point is really overemphasized, to be honest. You can easily find dirt cheap childrens equipment. They sell name brand childrens size skates (CCM) for $39.99. You can get a great pair of used skates for $15. You can play house league for next to nothing.

    Some of the best NHL players in history grew up dirt poor. Gordie Howe and Theo Fluery come to mind immediately as kids who were poorer than just about anyone currently living in the projects. Wayne Gretzkly was the son of a stay at home mother and a Bell technician. Hardly the upper-crust of Canadian society.

    Yes, hockey *can* be expensive if you are enrolling in triple A and want your kid to wear Reebok pump skates and use a $369.99 carbon hockey stick, but if your kids just wants to play hockey, it is actually very affordable.
     
  20. GreatCanadian

    GreatCanadian Registered User

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    Sports are only as expensive as you want it to be. Sure, you can go out and buy 700$ skates, the latest composite stick for 250$, and pro-grade stuff.... but don't complain that it is costly. This stuff will not change your performance on the ice all that much. If you don't have a lot of money and the goal is just to get out there and play hockey, then you can get a wood stick for 20$, and can get the rest at a used sports store for next to nothing.

    When I raced Karts, I was well-known for being thrifty, in a sport known for being expensive. It was to the point that it pissed people off. Equipment dealers were preaching that you needed the latest and greatest equipment to be fast, and people figured they needed to spend up the wazoo to even join and were turned off by it. Meanwhile, I only had a part-time student job so I raced the oldest Kart in the area (but I kept it well-maintained), with second-hand gear, and when big race teams were throwing out tires that were still 50% good (cause, ya know, gotta keep getting new ones!), I'd go get them in the trash bins, and beat them on the time sheets a few times!

    ..they started throwing out their tires elsewhere. They had not appreciated it. :)

    The point of my little story is that, any sport is only as expensive as you want it to be. If you really want to play hockey and have even just a few bucks to spare, it can be done!
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  21. blasted

    blasted Registered User

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    But if u have 2 kids in competitive hockey the costs are then in the thousands......which is more than many people can afford...part of the reason BOYS enrollement is down in many parts of our own country.:shakehead
     
  22. LadyStanley

    LadyStanley RIP Fugu

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    Actually, it might be a few hundred dollars, as you'd have to buy an entire batch direct from a company as they aren't made much anymore.
     
  23. GreatCanadian

    GreatCanadian Registered User

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    Yeah, it could be tricky soon. Maybe it's gone in lots of places, but here in NB there are still wood sticks available! Not much left, but there are some!
     
  24. Fugu

    Fugu Guest


    You still need ice. :)

    Point being it's not in your back yard [anymore, or for many people].
     
  25. TaketheCannoli

    TaketheCannoli RIP

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    How in the hell did this question:


    Morph into:

    The US is demographically dispersed. Kids in New England, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, the Upper Mid-West etc. can play on frozen ponds. Kids in Florida can't, but kids in large parts of California can.

    The cost of organized sports of any type is rising to the point that disadvantaged families can no more afford organized football than they can organized hockey. In my area, kids have to pay $1000 per season to play High School football and Basketball in many districts. The economy and governmental deficits are squeezing out funding for sports. They pay the same for hockey.

    Do Americans see it as un-American? It depends who you ask. The majority in the US aren't sports fans at all.

    Do all Canadians love hockey? No...Not even the majority.
     

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