Monday, October 31, 2011

Why NHL Hockey is Better Off as a Niche Sport

by J. Scott Moore

I don’t consider myself a hockey snob.  I have no standing in that elite club, no pedigree, no place at all.  I wasn’t born north of the border and I didn’t grow up in a traditional hockey hot-bed.  Denver is still considered by many as a pretender, a football town and a cow town. 

And in part I’m here to sell you on the idea that Denver as a football town is not just ok, it’s great.  There’s room in this town for hockey and football and those other sports as well.  After all, we do have a lot of wide open space, mind the cow pies.

I understand the whole, er…I hate to use this term to describe the situation but I think it gets the point across…I understand the whole capitalist approach to growing the sport.  For survival in this ever expanding world of entertainment of ours, it’s necessary to try to keep up with the Jones.  But I often find myself hoping that the NHL simply maintains the status quo as the fourth major sport.

And I LOVE hockey, don’t misunderstand, I don’t think you will if you are reading my blog.  You must be able to deduce that I love hockey.  But sometimes, deep in my heart, I hope that the NHL is never, ever as popular as the NFL.  Never the #1 sport.  And most of all never the big money sport that the other big three have become.

Big money breeds big corruption.  The saddest thing in the world to me would be the slow corruption of the great sport of hockey.  And if the NHL started to look like the NFL with the prima donnas and the drugs…well it would be the beginning of the end.  Next time you are cussing the marketing department of your favorite NHL team, take a minute to reflect on the fact that if the NHL was wildly successful just how much would those tickets be for opening night?  And yes, I agree that Bettman could make better decisions, but as long as this great sport doesn’t get run over by its own Zamboni I think it will be fine.

It’s all about the attitude.  While the NFL sits atop its throne as the biggest sport in North America its foundation is rotting.  It strikes me as odd that the NFL has been so over-marketed that fans are more interested in fantasy teams than the ones that actually exist.  And then there is the success of NFL Red Zone.  Doesn’t that validate the boring nature of about 60% (correlating yards to percent) of the game?

The way I see this is that as long as the NHL is striving for respect and working for new fans, taking nothing for granted, it will be all that much better.  It’s the underdog mentality that makes it a better experience for me.  I don’t want to be #1.  I really don’t.

 What do you think, Mike?


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