NHL  > General NHL  > Most Sport fans: Why we have no interest in hockey 1 of 4
February 21, 2012, 12:36 PM
After seeing the almost manic reactions and responses all over the net over the past few years I thought as a disinterested US sportsfan I might pop by and give an honest perspective to hockey fans and the NHL, being representative of what I believe are the majority of sports fans in the USA and indeed the world. To begin, the issue is not that most of us dislike hockey its that we have little or no interest in it. That's far different from so many hockey fans who profess hatred for and disdain towards basketball yet have surprisingly detailed knowledge of the sport, where even the most scathing basketball critic who claim zero interest obviously closely watch and follow news about the sport. Why? Non-Hockey fans usually ignore everything about that sport - we flip past it on TV and generally do not talk about it among friends and acquaintances.
I see that hockey has an almost 100year history in the USA (see I did my research) so this nation has had more than enough time to fall in love with the game. What's clear is that the constant hope that America would soon 'get' hockey is largely a pipe-dream, America has seen hockey for a long time and simply isn't interested; what's taking so long for that simple message to sink in? Hockey has had some regional success but that's it it simply cannot grow into a truly national sport - not only has it already reached its maximum potential in America its poised for ultimate shrinkage in America's sports landscape NBC deal notwithstanding and here's why.
February 21, 2012  12:37 PM ET

In Canada Hockey is king - their best athletes are likely to play it and the nation identifies with it. No wonder the majority of NHL players are Canadian. Its not so in the USA or the rest of the world (with a few exceptions like maybe Latvia and Sweden). In the USA the best athletes do not play hockey - they play Baseball, Basketball and Football which means that hockey players in the USA are culled from second-string athletes that usually did not or could not make it in the big three sports but whose parents were wealthy enough to have them do an alternate sport with a lower entry athletic thresh-hold. So parents who could afford it bundled up little Timmy, bought skating lessons and gear and gave him a chance to be a sports jock too. Timmy may not have been naturally skilled enough, tall enough, quick enough, strong enough, big enough or athletic enough to play baseball, football or basketball but by golly he's gonna get his chance to be a kinda jock too. Americans understand that that's generally the background of hockey players in this country and quasi-jocks do not cut it with most of us. Hockey also has an obvious demographic problem - it simply does not look like modern america and to complicate that fact it seems to attract people with the kind of throwback mentality that most americans are happy to have done with. This isn't necessarily hockey's fault but a consequence of its visuals; compared to popular american sports where people watch to enjoy or deride the skills of the players, hockey (like Nascar) seem to have many fans who watch it not just as a sport but as an act of ethnic or racial solidarity. In wider america that's not a real reason to follow a sport and they tune it out along with the voices of hockey fans and writers who make thinly veiled appeals to them on that basis. Speaking of writers, you can fairly easily distinguish those who have a pure love for the sport and those whose stance is based on racial/ethnic solidarity. The later group includes the PuckDaddy guy and Dater, while the former would have people like Bucci (I can't spell these names well but you know hockey people know who I''m referring to); the rule of thumb is the level of anti-NBA obsession and vitriol they spew. In common with the more obviously bigoted hockey fans their anti-NBA screeds appear to be substitutes for expressions of racial animus.

February 21, 2012  12:38 PM ET

Then there is Soccer, Soccer in spite of what hockey fans tell themselves is taking over - I would not be surprised to see it become in the next decade or so the number 2 sport in america - especially if the USA eventually goes far into a WorldCup competition over thisperiod. Soccer is gearing up to supplant hockey as america's number 3 sport in the near future. The popularity gap between hockey and soccer is apparently closer than between hockey and basketball and all the odds are in soccer's favor. The new NBC sportschannel have hedged their bet on hockey with the MLS and the great surprise will be that this relationship will see Soccer grow much faster and reach much further into america's psyche than hockey as a result of these deals - 2012 will be very interesting as a result, you heard it here first. Lastly, unlike soccer and basketball there is very little growth potential for hockey outside of teh areas it already exists. As the world shrinks, sports without global reach and appeal will naturally lose attention and hockey falls squarely into that category. the NHL and hockey fans - you are beating a dying horse here - not to say hockey will die - it will not, but its ability to hold onto its current place in our sports is under unrelenting and ultimately irresistable threat. We americans are increasingly behaving like global citizens and parochial activities are less and less interesting to us, sorry it is what it is - but that is why most of us as I said before, have little or no interest in your hockey.

February 21, 2012  12:39 PM ET

....was posted in parts because of the limitations of posting on board

February 25, 2012  04:13 PM ET

Who ever wrote this is an idiot! The reason Americans are not as supportive of hockey as they should be is that most Americans can not afford to play the sport and it is not condusive to TV like other sports.
The reason hockey people hate basketball is two fold... 1 basketball players are soft and self absorbed. 2) there is not true sense of team in basketball. As you only need 2-3 good players to be competitive. They cry everytime they are touched and behave in a rediculus manner. Hockey people hate soft athletes! There is no tougher team sport out there, not even football. Football teams play once a week, and hits are delivered at slower speeds with out a wall to get tackled into. If a football team and hockey team played a common sport such rugby or lacrosse, a football team may win the first game, but if they played 4 games in a week, like hockey players do they would run out of gas and loose 3 out of 4. A hockey team is made up of linebackers and runningbacks. Baseball players are soft and do not need to be in shape to play, see John Kruk. NASCAR drivers do not have to be in shape at all to drive around a circle, although they are respected for their craziness.

February 25, 2012  06:46 PM ET

Nickel, you make some valid points, but then in a few instances, you twist things to support your argument. For example, you state that Americans have had a hundred years to fall in love with hockey, but America has never done so. Then you turn around and state that soccer is poised to soon become the number two sport in America. You do realize that people have been stating JUST WHAT YOU SAID about soccer, that is, that it is going to hit the bigtime in America, for at least 40 years now. I would say that 40+ years is plenty of time for Americans to acquire their taste for soccer, and it clearly has not happened.

You pretty much state that a lot of people are attracted to hockey for racial reasons. You also state that many KIDS who start in hockey do so because they aren't athletic or talented enough to play the "Big Three" sports. Let's take a look at the pro and big-time college levels in these sports. To play basketball, you pretty much have to have a malfuntioning pituitary gland to have just a remote chance to become a run of the mill performer, let alone major star. To play football, you have to be either obese or a mesomorph to play many of the positions. In addition, injury is an almost certainty. I have seen posters on the Truth and Rumors college threads, and these are posters who live in Texas and live-and-breath high school and college football, state that they won't let their own sons play football due to the injury risk.

You fail to recognize that many white kids growing up in suburban America just don't want to deal with the rigors of a highly regimented team structure these days. Yes, kids have changed. This is why you see many kids snowboarding or skateboarding these days which you never saw 50 years ago. And let's not forget the impact of video/computer games. Where I live, I cannot remember the last time I saw young kids outside playing ANY sport.

I also think it is pretty arrogant to question why some people are attracted to a given sport. Even if it is for "ethnic solidarity", so what? Who are you to state that that is "no real reason" to follow a sport? Personally, I am not attracted to hockey, I abhor both soccer and NASCAR, but I don't think any less of anyone who is passionate about these sports. Geez, I shutter to think what you must think about people who are attracted to tennis or swimming or the Winter X-games.

Again, while you make valid points, I think the truth is considerably more complex than the argument you presented and believe.

March 4, 2012  04:21 PM ET

This guy doesn't have any clout on SI, does he? I hope not. Hockey is a niche sport due to its cold climate, people in the south don't like it as much because they don't understand it and have never played. You don't appreciate the level of skill something takes until you've attempted it yourself. Also, I'd argue hockey is thriving more than ever in it's foundational markets. Look up attendance stats and you'll see as such. The American South has NOT had hockey for a hundred years, some of the teams have been around less down there than the soccer teams you previously mention. I am obviously biased, but I think the fan bases are strong enough, if anything, move forward. Regarding soccer, I think Americans see it as European and soft, and anything un-American I think will have a hard time going beyond being niche.

March 28, 2012  04:13 AM ET

Ok, tell that to the 1.5 million of people that showed up in Boston when the Bruins won the cup.... More people showed up for the Bruins then the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots, hockey drew more people then baseball, basketball and football...

Hockey is bigger then you think, NBC sees this and has picked it up... Fact is hockey players are humble, they are not at all like the over paid prima-donas that you find in the other 3 major sports, in the U.S. .... Not to mention they play longer seasons and they are the hardest working professional athletes out there. You may not know about them, for they work hard and have no time to flaunt themselves in the public, as celebrities, which other pro-athletes do all the time!! You would never see one date Kim Kardashian, that is for sure!!

" ...disinterested US sportsfan" This is how you refer yourself and you expect anyone to hold value to what you say??? Go comment on something you know about, things you are actually interested in. For us U.S. hockey fans know better!!!!!

April 1, 2012  11:08 PM ET

THANK YOU to everyone who commented AFTER Nickel! I agree with all of you and I just happen to be a huge hockey fan. I watch some football and baseball but, have little or no interest in basketball. I'd like to know who actually ASKED Nickels opinion in the 1st place? Seems to me that if you have to bash any one sport then, maybe you are feeling..um...threatened. lol Lighten up guy and just enjoy whatever sports you like and leave the ones you don't, to those of us that do! Oh and... GO BRUINS!!! <3

April 8, 2012  09:39 AM ET

I love hockey and can't wait for the SC playoffs to start.

April 9, 2012  02:08 AM ET

Hockey RULES!!!!!! By far the fasted played and hardest hitting team sport on earth. Just because you don???t understand that most Americans are fed up with drama queen athletes like most of the NBA, who get paid 10X the amount of NHL players doesn???t give you the right to imply it's racial issue. If you did your homework you would know that there are several hockey players that were multiple sport athletes in school. If you haven???t played it, or seen it live than you wouldn't understand it. That is the reason America has not made it main stream. BTW did you check the TV ratings for the winter classic the last 3 years? I believe America is catching on. Hockey....NO OVERPAID PRITTY BOY WHINNING DONT TOUCH ME OR ILL CRY WANNA BE ATHLEATES ALOUD!

April 14, 2012  02:44 PM ET

Maybe in the States but if that dwarf commissioner, Bettman, would get his act together and realize where hockey truly flourishes, the game would be taken the hell out of a couple of these listless cities in the States and moved to Canada where the teams belong in the first place. Then the fans in the U.S. could resume watching their grass grow as in watching the NBA.


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