February 10, 2010

Simon Kuper thinks hockey is starting to slip as Canada's number one sport, as Canadians fall for soccer: It's a ridiculous assertion, but still worth reading for an outsider's perspective.

posted by Steve-o to hockey at 04:09 PM - 8 comments

It's not that ridiculous an assertion. Canadians are becoming an increasingly urban society. Most people in the country live within a few 100 kms of Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. Where I live is a complete diaspora. There are 70 languages that can be accessed on the Transit website because they're the most spoken ones. Soccer is popular mostly because it has been imported (and I think part of the popularity is based on the fact that Americans don't like soccer).

Also - it's getting warmer here. I know that they're digging out down south, but it hasn't snowed much here at all. And it's getting less and less.

However, one thing the author alludes to, but doesn't go into great depth about is the assimilating effect of new immigrants to Canada. A lot of them are into hockey. If you go watch minor hockey these days - you see a lot more than white faces. While the national team still looks lily white, the newbies are coming up and there's a lot of diversity.

I have no doubt that as soccer's popularity improves, hockey will still remain number 1. Basketball has a lot of participation as well.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:17 PM on February 10

The Olympic team isn't lily-white. You forgot about Jarome Iginla. You're right, the diversity continues to grow with players like Nazem Kadri, Manny Malhotra, etc.

posted by Steve-o at 02:06 AM on February 11

There is nothing wrong with the global game of football gaining popularity in North America. The only people objecting to this trend are the ones who see it as a cultural threat. What a bovine mentality! If you don't understand or appreciate it, don't bash it! Ignore it! Or even better, learn about it. 6 billion people can't be wrong.

posted by trueblueroo at 09:00 AM on February 11

I made the mistake of reading that article once, and then turning to the comments. Turns out, you can't go back and read it again without registering for the page, so this is based on one reading. Of course the comment above seems to be based on no reading, so I'll have that leg up.

'Roo, care to explain to me how that article or the two other posts involved any objection to soccer as a game? Who "bashed" it, providing a "bovine" mentality? I took the liberty of looking at your previous posts, many of which seem to be vehement defenses of soccer when it is under no sort of attack.

If, indeed, soccer ever does become the most popular game in Canada (which will not do soon, even as the article points out), the citizens of that country will have every right to wax nostalgic or pine for the glory days of hockey. It is a game that has helped to identify that nation for a long time. That is a far cry from "bashing" soccer.

This is the wrong forum to spout off about (North) America's failure to embrace a game. The members here appreciate soccer and discuss it as intelligently as any other sport. Many here follow MLS and our national teams, as well as European clubs. Knock off the condescending bullshit, and you just might find yourself among some sympathetic people.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:14 AM on February 11

Dear tahoemoj at 11:14 AM on February 11:
I worded my message carefully the global game of football gaining popularity in North America. does not mean replacing other established sports -in your case your beloved hockey- for which you certainly have every right to feel affection.
The game is gaining popularity in spite of the attempts by the established media and the unwashed masses in North America to prevent it. If sometimes I appear defensive, please forgive my shortcoming.


posted by trueblueroo at 12:19 PM on February 11

No, to complete the sentence, you said There is nothing wrong with the global game of football gaining popularity in North America. My point was that neither the article nor the posts that followed it dispute that.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:52 PM on February 11

Sorry, but that is really is a crap article. So TFC average 20k at home games, more than the Maple Leafs. Could you also mention that the Leafs play three times the home games in an arena that only seats 19,500 and sell out every one of them? That is not an apples/apples comparison. I could throw up figures showing cricket is the fastest growing sport in Canada - take that soccer! - but put it in context and its obvious that there is no threat to beer-league softball's place as the dominant summer team sport.

I'd really like to see an age distribution of soccer players in Canada. I suspect there is a real difference in the shape of the curve compared to hockey with far more young children - parents wanting to get their kids playing sport and using soccer as a simple, cheap introduction. In my small sample size of Vancouver families I know they get kids playing soccer early as the initial gear/skills requirement is low, let the kids decide what they like out of sports and then let the kids move on to other sports they show an interest in. Lots try, not sure about the retention rate.

posted by deflated at 02:41 PM on February 11

TFC sells out every game too. The biggest problem with that comparison is that ticket prices are much higher for the Leafs. Comparing their TV ratings gives a better indication of their popularity.

posted by Steve-o at 09:46 PM on February 11

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