Saturday, May 8, 2010

Americans Don't Watch Hockey

As I sit here on day two of the World Championships for ice hockey I can’t help but feel a little annoyed that I have had to resort to either an automatically refreshing webpage off of the IIHF website or some feed I can find online.

Maybe I just can’t navigate NBC’s Universal Sports page to find the feed for the games. If I missed them I half heartedly apologize - yes only half for they should be easier to find if they are there.

I was asked more than once in my sports management classes why I watch hockey (clearly I do not live in a hockey area - though they do have an NHL team and the fans want to call themselves a hockey town). Anyway WHY I like hockey is not the point right now, it is the fact then when I ask them “well have you ever really watched a hockey game?” and more often than not the answer is “no”.

So why don’t people watch hockey? It’s not that they don’t understand the sport - how many people just sat and learned about short track speed skating earlier this year because of Apolo Ohno? - its because it’s never on tv. There is no United States coverage of the sport. Versus tries - but they only air two regular season games a week and then NBC plays one every Sunday in the middle of the day, oh and the Winter Classic. Until play offs you can’t find hockey on tv unless it is on your local sports channel. Many cable company packages don’t come with Verses - remember that Directv issue. Also I never had Verses and had to upgrade my package to get Versus just to see play off games in 2008. Americans just don’t have the access to the games unless they are already hockey fans and know where to look.

The Winter Classic was a great idea - I even watched the 2009 Winter Classic from a hospital bed and gave nurses and doctors basic hockey 101 in the ER. Keep in mind like I said above I live in an area where the fans want to call themselves ‘hockey town’ (sorry that name belongs to Detroit and the Ilitch family even owns the rights to it so find your own name - maybe the Ovechkin District - see what I did there… awesomeness).

Something else that might help with getting new fans to watch hockey - get Pierre McGuire off of NBC really. I am so tired of him. JR is awesome - keep him (especially if he does end up punching Mad Mike Milbury).

As for worlds - I will have to keep looking for internet feeds to watch other teams - including the recent Olympic gold and bronze medal winning teams (Canada and Finland in case you forgot) because Universal Sports is not airing them (unless they are in a game with the US).

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