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The Cost Of Playing The Game

from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,

Absorbed by Postmedia colleague Michael Traikos’s series on the new epidemic of hockey academies for children of the very rich or soon-to-be poor, here was my take-away from the revelations it contained:

Hockey, if it isn’t already, is in danger of becoming an illness in Canada, possibly untreatable.

We mock Americans for their obsessive love of football’s ingrained brutality and the cavalier way fans and parents and league administrators shrug off all of that sport’s accompanying detritus, but do we ever look in the mirror?

Our national winter sport has become terrifyingly expensive, dangerously elitist, and is slowly but surely hacking away at the roots of what made the possibility of greatness accessible, albeit at greater or lesser odds, to any kid with talent and a dream.

Now it also takes money, and plenty of it.


If you missed the four part feature from Traikos, here is part four with links to the previous articles too...

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, Youth Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Hank1974's avatar

The parents are to blame for a lot of the expenses.

My 9YO son plays HL hockey and we spent a whopping $600 for 6 months of hockey. That includes $500 for registration and $100 for gear.
We buy used equipment. He’s wearing $10 used skates that are 2 years old before this year. Outside of the laces, they look brand new and my son skates fine with them.
He’s the best skating dman on the team.
So nobody can tell me that kids need $400 skates for their kids to be good. Many HOF NHLers played with hand-me-down skates.
Same with his stick. I got a composite stick for $30 at Canadian Tire, not the $300 twigs some parents buy for their 11 year old ‘superstar’.

Then there’s the ridiculousness that is forcing kids to buy $500-$1000 on team swag.
Do kids really need to have a custom track suit, jogging pants, toque, suit, roller bag, suit carrying case, baseball cap, sweatshirts, etc, etc, etc in order to be a good player?
No they don’t.
I also find it funny that nearly every travel team in my town has a coach that owns a screen printing business.
Coincidence? Sure it is.

How about tournaments? Do these teams need to go to a tournament every weekend?
My buddy’s kid has been to 4 tournaments already, 2 in Michigan (I live in Southern Ontario).
Each tourney costs a family a minimum of $500 after hotel costs, gas and eating are taken into consideration.

In short, a lot of the issues facing youth hockey in Canada are fuelled by elitist parents and coaches.

I know it’s tough for the parents to stand up to this, but it only takes a few to say ‘enough’.
Pay the registration fee’s, buy the jersey and go to the rink.

$500 for registration for house-league hockey is still a lot of money. And I know the amount I pay is a pittance compared to larger centres.
But it’s still manageable for most people.

But when I hear about families that have 3 or 4 kids playing travel and AAA hockey and spend a staggering $20,000+ a season, I just laugh.
Good luck with that. My uncle spent over $100,000 on his son’s hockey believing he was going to make it.
Guess where he is today? Beer leagues. With other kids who had parents pay 100K thinking they were the next Jonathan Toews.

I just understand how we got to this point.
If players like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky became the greatest in the world without all the flim flam that is required of today’s players, I gotta believe that kids today could too.

Posted by Hank1974 on 12/19/15 at 04:44 PM ET

mattimeo's avatar

Good point Hank. Southern ontario… Windsor by any chance? Do you play hockey as well?

Posted by mattimeo on 12/19/15 at 06:23 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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