Hockey is a great sport, so why is it that the game has slipped so far, in terms of relevancy, in the United States?
It was not that long ago when the NHL and NBA were pretty much running head to head in the race for the #3 spot behind the NFL and MLB. Today, hockey is close to slipping behind golf. Soccer blew past hockey years ago.
How did it happen so fast? Where is the American Gretzky? Unless his parents are making $65,000 a year or more, there is a good chance he will not be playing hockey. Yes, we have priced the game to a point where it has become out of reach for most of the middle class parents.
The gap will continue to expand unless USA Hockey and the NHL take drastic steps to lower the costs for parents. Rink owners have spent entirely too much time on game rooms and need to re-establish the equipment exchange room. Reversing the trend is not going to be easy.
USA Hockey has seen some growth, but so has all the other sports as parents have taken steps to get the kids off the sofa.
The money grab has shown its head over and over. American parents get over excited at the first sound of a foreign accent and it seems like every youth club in America has to have a foreign national as a director.
It takes more than an accent to be a good coach.
Give the games back to the kids. Keep it fun, inexpensive, and limitless. Communities need to spend a little more money on parks and public rinks and less on methadone clinics and safe zones. It is funny how much one area could have an influence on the other.
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