Future of Minor Hockey in NL

Updated: January 2, 2014
Minor Hockey in NL | Newfoundland Sports Talk

Does minor hockey have a future in Newfoundland and Labrador?  While it may be considered Canada’s favourite pastime, there is no denying the dwindling numbers of children taking to the ice to play a game of hockey.

Gone are the days of strapping on the skates, heading to the pond for a game of shinny.  Kids are more prone to be inside on the computer, playing video games or texting on their smartphones.  The draw to go outside is not like it was in days gone-by, there are more things competing for a child’s time and unfortunately hockey will typically fall to the wayside.

Parents want their children to be involved and many initially make the effort to get their kids involved in hockey.  In fact, many parents try to live vicariously through their children and because they played hockey when they were growing up there’s more of a sentimental attachment to hanging out at the arena, sipping coffee or hot chocolate while their kids are on the ice.  However, parents quickly learn that this is not the game they grew up with.

Things have gotten more expensive with registration fees and equipment costs.  Then there’s the time commitment with the practices, games and tournaments (both at home and away).  Top this off with the ‘respectful game’ sessions that parents must now attend, families with two working parents have to juggle things around to fit hockey into an already busy schedule and this impacts the number of children who initially start hockey and continue playing through the minor ranks.

With a large portion of working parents migrating to and from work camps in the Alberta oil fields, to the construction sites in Labrador or on the Avalon Peninsula, much of the demands to get the kids to and from hockey falls on the shoulders of the hockey mom.  The hockey mom must now be responsible for the day-to-day running of the house, getting the kids off to school, music lessons, hockey and then to her own work.  The pressures pay a toll and unfortunately, the time commitment required for hockey is often too great.

Top this off with the dwindling population in rural areas and families as a whole having less children, the writing is on the wall for minor hockey numbers.  They have been showing a decline over the last ten years here in Newfoundland and even with the recent surge in girls playing hockey, the numbers are still declining.  It’s an eventual matter of mathematics catching up to the sport.

For there to be a successful minor hockey program in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will fall on the volunteers and the minor hockey associations to get very creative, especially in the rural areas.   Leagues may survive in the larger centres such as St. John’s and Corner Brook, but eventually, the smaller towns will have no minor programs or the parents will be forced to travel to get their kids into a minor program.

It’s just how things are looking right now and unless Newfoundland and Labrador has a big surge in population growth, the future of minor hockey as we see it now is looking pretty bleak.

What’s your thoughts on Minor Hockey in Newfoundland?

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