Hockey is the greatest sport on earth. It is fast and physical. Shots and scoring chances are abundant. It is a game that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Basketball, baseball and football are all very good sports but they come no where close to the excitment of a hockey game. And yet, in the US, hockey takes a back seat to GAMES. To competitions that dont even qualify as sports. How can the average American rather watch poker, arena football and bass fishing than a good old game of hockey? The answer is NOT that the league does a bad job of promoting our sport. We certainly promote more than World Combat League. No, this lack of popularity in the States is not the fault of Bettman or the NHL, no matter how much we love to blame our hockey woes on them.
The truth is that people cant relate to hockey. They wont give it a chance. Because where in the United States can the average guy play a pick up hockey game at any time. You have to find a rink, very often an expensive rental. Then you need to gather at least 20 people who can skate well, shoot well, and pass well. 20 people with 20 skates, sticks, pads and helmets, not to mention goalies. Yes, there are many leagues but how many people are good enough to join one. How many people can skate backwards or do a hockey stop. I know I cant. But baseball fields are all over the place, everybody has a glove and knows how to swing a bat. Basketball games can be from 2 to 16 people and all you need is a ball. Courts are free and all over the place. Find any open field and a bunch of big guys and you got yourself a football game. Heck, its easier to put together a poker game, a fishing trip, or climb flippin' Mount Everest than get a hockey game going in a moments notice. Nobody plays hockey so why watch it? The sport is too good, requires too much skill for the average sports enthusiast to relate to. A guy speeds on the highway, then flips on the TV and sees a bunch of guys driving around in a circle and thinks, "Hey, i can relate to this".
We NEED to make the game of hockey more accesible in our country. Create organizations in your community to provide equipment, rinks, after-school programs for hockey. Take your kids to the ice skating rink more often than two Sundays a year. They're doing it in baseball, football and basketball. And we're falling behind. If people could skate like they walk, could shoot like they surf TV channels, then hockey would be #1. That's why it is # 1 in Canada. We need the youth, the future, to learn the sport. Do a little bit. And all thse little bits could end up saving the sport we love.
Sorry, the NHL advertises for hockey during hockey games. It needs to create commercials promoting the sport and pay to air them during OTHER sporting events. There are many Hollywood celebrities who love the game and would likely be happy to participate in commercials to promote it. As for the commercials, hockey is full of highlights that put the big four (NFL, MLB, NBA and Nascar) to shame. Commercials aired during each of those events comparing those sports to hockey would be a true first step in properly promoting the game. A home run could be compared to a breakaway goal. A crash in racing to an open ice hit. A block in basketball to a save. A pass in football to a give and go. I could go on and on. The comparisons are obvious, just don't let Barry Melrose choose the highlights.