The Culture of American Hockey – From Solar Bears to Jason’s Vacant Stares

Stateside, the sport of hockey is a bit of a lackluster affair. Sure we’ve still got some good teams, a trilogy of mighty Ducks movies, and we even beat the Russians at it once. We always love beating the Russians at stuff! Unfortunately, none of this has really seemed to help pull hockey into the
limelight.

The strange thing is that hockey seems to be an ideal sport. There’s bludgeoning of people, high rates of injuries, and has a nice pacing and drama to it. So why is it that Americans can’t seem to be bothered by hockey? Now I have two theories about why this is. The first revolves around this lovely gentleman here. 

Yes that is good ole Jason Voorhees, the fictional serial killer that all of our older siblings love torment us with. Now given that a large portion of the U.S. is not prone to hockey weather (Go, Solar Bears!) our first exposure to anything vaguely hockey related are scenes of this man plunging machetes through wooden walls, wooden doors, and wooden characters.

While this makes for a wonderfully clichéd horror movie, it can also come off as something absolutely horrifying for a 6 year old.  Now imagine for a moment that you are that 6 year old, freshly traumatized by their shitty family. Your dad loads you up with what feels like 100 pounds of pads, puts you on some narrows blades, and pushes you onto ice. You get your bearings, the coach hands you a stick, and then asks you to charge at this.

hockey goalie
“Fuck you dad, I’m playing Basketball!” ~ All 6 year olds

That brings me to my second theory, and one you’ve all probably guessed, the cost of the game. While sports like football and baseball enjoy a certain level of subsidies as schools maintain their own teams, most hockey players are relegated to what are known as “Travel Teams” here in Florida. This means everything is paid out of pocket, from travel on down to the necessary gear and even venue rentals. Simply put, most Americans just can’t afford it.

Of course there are ways to mitigate the costs of playing hockey. For those that can’t afford the best selection of hockey equipment, you can search around for goalie pads and sticks on the cheap. Cut back on the expensive hotel stays and try to carpool to matches. Some northern cities even offer programs to help keep individual costs down. The problem is once you compare this to the relatively cheap game of soccer, most parents opt for the cheaper option.

Besides all of this, Hockey still has to compete with an odd season. Starting when Football is already well underway, and ending right as Basketball picks up. No matter what it’s gonna be an uphill battle for the sport, and they no longer have the draw of us beating the “bad guys”…. I wonder if North Korea  has a hockey team?

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Scott

Philosopher, writer, bad-pun maker and enjoyer of novelty. I enjoy bikes, video games, and beer all at the same time. When it comes to reading, I can and do.

1 thought on “The Culture of American Hockey – From Solar Bears to Jason’s Vacant Stares”

  1. horror movies definitely has nothing to do with hockey not being a popular sport. i understand the expense can be high especially with these parents nowadays that have to get better stuff for their kids than the jones’ did for their kids. but hockey can be as cheap if not cheaper than football.

    the big problem is most people that have no knowledge of hockey have two trains of thoughts. 1: hockey is a neanderthal sport that is nothing but fights and hitting 2: it is elitist and racist. i know this from comments i hear at a local bar (when we put hockey on).

    none of these people understand the intricacies of the game. or how difficult a sport it really is. they have no idea how amazing players like gretzky, brodeur or orr are. Brendan Shanahan said it best, Is hockey hard? “I don’t know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner, and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while 5 other guys use clubs to try and kill us, oh yeah did I mention that this whole time we’re standing on blades 1/8 of an inch thick? Is ice hockey hard? I don’t know, you tell me. Next question.”

    hockey is intimidating to the average person. trying to learn the rules and keep up with what is going on. it’s not baseball where there is one pitch every 2 and a 1/2 minutes. it’s not football where a player is out for 2 months from a stubbed toe, it’s not basketball where you are not allowed to touch the other players.

    it’s a 6oz biscuit of frozen rubber flying at you at 90+ mph, it’s scott stevens making you forget your parents names as you cross the blue line with your head down. it’s wayne gretzky scoring goals and assists from angles that would leave a 8 ball pro scratching their head. it’s basketball moves done on ice and skates not sneakers and wood.

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