Crisis In Hockey

Updated: September 30, 2004





We can Dream can’t we.

That Good can come from Bad.

That the unexpected really can happen.

That Black athletes can skate as well as white ones.

That hockey should be a fully integrated Sport.

So let the NHL owners lock out their players. As they have just done. Forever if they want. Let the NHL collapse. We certainly can’t be blamed if it does. But we can talk about something better arising from its Ashes.

It won’t ? That’s not the Point. Every new Cataclysm in Sports offers one Opportunity that cannot be denied. The chance to explore alternatives. In doing so to Examine the fact that the Conventions we live with often have no basis in logic or fairness.

Developments that expose the flaws and the fraud society perpetuates in who and what we are.

Every time we tackle hockey in the Box inevitably one African American or another – its usually just one – writes in to complain they like NHL hockey just the way it is. That a handful of Black players in fine with them.

Well just the way it is Hockey is failing miserably with a dwindling fan base, practically no tv audience and massive debts that keep growing and growing.

Does the world need hockey ?

No. And it doesn’t need football, basketball, baseball or chocolate chip ice cream either. But less choices diminish the world we inhabit.

The fact that those who control hockey and its various teams, as well as the sports establishment in general ( whoever they are beyond being white ) and as well the African American community ( as though there is a coherent community ) none see the potential in a Version of hockey in which lots of the players are Black proves how little we really understand Sports and its meaning in our lives.

We have no doubt were 30% 40% or 50% of NHL players Black – just as in the two most popular sports in America – filled with both African Canadian and African American it would be a much more Spirited Sports with far more fan appeal because the quality of the game would be enhanced in that many of us want integrated sports as much as so many factors mitigate against it and so many Bigots do everything they can to avoid it.

Integrated sports make for better Play.

Integrated sports have a Soul missing from all white sports and as is being drained from Baseball right now to its long term detriment that sport doesn’t understand but will.

And fan appeal is the issue. It always is. To buy those tickets and turn on those tv sets. Men and women, boys and girls who find joy in one sport or another. Those two factors live gate and tv and all the ancillary ones that go along with them create ALL the revenue teams and leagues bring in that determines success or failure.

Right now hockey is at a Dead End. Without new thinking even if the League reworks its finances and the players agree to give backs, and the Season goes on, nothing will have really Changed for the Better. The Sport will still be on life support and its prospects dismal.

Neither will any adjustments of the rules of play or slightly changing the size of the rink or the length of the season or the number of teams really have any material results to lessen hockey’s woeful Problems.

Only a massive shift in emphasis can do that. Changing the very dynamics of the sport by recreating it in some powerful way.

Call it as unrealistic as you want. It won’t change the Fact.

If the NHL announced a Program and a Goal to have 30% or more of NHL players Black by by the end of the Decade

That would save Hockey.

Yes it would.