Good The Expansion Of Hockey Essay Example
The paper discusses about the expansion of hockey in the United States. It focuses on how the sport entered the United States and gained prominence. The paper mentions about the importance of the National Hockey League in expanding the sport throughout the country. It also makes a note of the victory of the 1980 Winter Olympics and gives an account of the popularity of the sport. The paper focuses on the establishment, demise and rebirth of the World Hockey Association. It also describes about the emergence of the WHL, EHL and other competitors of the NHL that have played their role in expanding hockey into the United States. The paper also briefs about how the NHL had to face downfall in the mid-2000s and how it has improved the quality of the game in the recent years. It explains about the role of children and their parents in taking the toll of hockey players to over half a million. The paper best states the significance of hockey as a national sport of the United States, which generates a huge amount of revenue for the country. Finally, the paper concludes by indicating the future prospects of the NHL in taking the sport to a higher level.
Hockey is one of the most popular national sports of the United States. It was common only in a few cold regions, such as the states of Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and many others until a few decades ago. However, in the recent decades, the popularity of the sport has spread to a large part of the United States, which includes California, Florida, Texas and Arizona due to the expansion of the National Hockey League . The NHL is a prominent professional hockey league in the US with 24 US teams and six Canadian teams that compete for the Stanley Cup. Other professional hockey league teams include ECHL and the American Hockey League. The official governing body for amateur hockey sport in the US is the USA Hockey. The US Hockey Hall of Fame is in the United States.
Hockey was not as popular as football, baseball and basketball in the US until the 1980 Winter Olympics. It was only after the US hockey team beat the Soviet Union that the sport gained the name “Miracle on Ice” . From the period between 1942 and 1967, there were only a handful hockey players in the US as most of them came from Canada and Europe. The scenario began to change after 1967 with the increase in size of the NHL team. The year 1972 spurred the growth of women’s hockey in the United States. Before the expansion of NHL, only six markets possessed NHL teams, three of which were not even present in the US, which led to the short fall of profit margins . Many Americans not even heard of the sport hockey. However, hockey started to grow beyond the beliefs and imagery of the league owners. Television contracts played a crucial role in maximizing the revenue and popularity of the sport by telecasting live matches.
The NHL arenas in the seventies saw over 95 percent of filling capacity. Even before the establishment of the World Hockey Association, the NHL had a tough competitor, the Western Hockey League, which nurtured young talent to generate the premier hockey league of the United States. However, the NHL featured finest hockey players in the United States, funded by powerful and wealthy men. It virtually controlled all the junior and minor hockey leagues in North America. The NHL was capable enough to expand its teams and fight off a tough competition with the American Hockey League, the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western League . Later on, the World Hockey Association secured its positions in cities that are far from the NHL arenas. The NHL made use of the Reserve Clause and expanded the teams for a second time in 1970.
After evaluating the strength of the WHA, the NHL started to pay attention to every announcement made by the WHA and started to expand its franchises to Georgia, Atlanta and Long Island. On the Pacific coast, Los Angeles proved to be a promising region to the hockey sport. Expansion of hockey teams by the WHA in cities, such as Phoenix, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver shocked the NHL and probed it to attract the best players and increase the salary of the players to over $1 million per year, which was a huge amount in the seventies . In order to gain popularity among the Americans, the WHA altered some of the rules of hockey to present a completely new mode of game. After various conflicts settlements, injuries and sufferings, the WHA and NHL finally decided to hold negotiations for official merging. The WHA decided to expand into Europe if the NHL was not likely to agree for a merger.
The NHL treated the WHA merger as an expansion and instituted a draft process. Finally, the NHL agreed to accept four WHA teams into NHL, freeing the league from constant battles for salaries and talent. By 1979, hockey in the United States has seen a steady growth in popularity since the demise of the WHA. The NHL has started to gain immense prosperity adding new teams now and then. After years of financial struggle and unsuccessful attempts to build new arenas, the NHL teams struggled to maintain their payroll. In the early 2003, the rebirth of the WHA took place which had an extra bargaining tool and an option for extra arena in light of possible stoppage of the NHL matches in 2004 . The WHA started to attract more attention of the audience after its rebirth in 2004. Championship events introduced women’s hockey with some of the best players, which include Cindy Curley. Women’s hockey became so popular in the United States that the national team was able to participate in the Winter Olympic Games.
However, the NHL has been ignoring the request of WHL, which proves that would not take much time for the WHL to establish its league as a second premier league of the United States. There is another proposal to include the American Hockey League as a part of the NHL draft process, which would be the first instance in six years. The NHL has also denied organizing a prospect of games between the NHL and the Russian national hockey team. Currently, the national membership of USA Hockey is 18.8 percent . There is tremendous boom for the NHL in the South, where the ponds and lakes are merely suitable for swimming and fishing. USA Hockey has targeted the South in order to increase the traditional markets in the region and increase the popularity of the sport countrywide. Hockey is gaining wide acceptance in children like never. However, it is an expensive sport, which involves huge costs in the form of skates, shorts, leggings, helmets, shoulder pads and several other accessories that add up the costs.
While a used gear costs $350, the price of a new gear is at least $800, which is unaffordable by a majority of families. The huge costs involved in the game tend the parents to opt for games, such as basketball, football and baseball for their children over hockey. The American Hockey League has also announced its plans to create a Pacific Division, which would take part in the 2015-16 play season . The AHL hopes to maintain a tenuous balance between victory and development by linking its teams to markets, such as San Diego and San Jose, where there are various options of entertainment. During the recent winter meetings, the Eastern Hockey League also proposed an expansion, which would aid in generating huge revenue in the east. The NHL is recovering at a good pace in the recent years as revenues and TV ratings have started to show an increase.
With the looming CBA expiration, it is essential that the NHL learns a lesson from its mistakes that took place in the mid-2000s, else the doom for hockey would be inevitable. There has always been a question of dilution of the talent pool and an overall inferior product if the NHL expanded very often. While expansion of the NHL would allow the sport of hockey to grow and flourish in the United States, it is a risky as the expansion in some regions does not guarantee the same amount of revenue as in other regions. The combination of the effort, hard work and dedication of various people as well as organizations to expand the sport of hockey nationwide surpassed the number of hockey players in the United States to over half a million . The tremendous growth of hockey was not only visible in the traditional markets of the sport, but also in various non-traditional markets. An increase in the popularity of hockey in the non-traditional markets has transformed the game into a national foot print of America.
The past three years had witnessed an unprecedented growth in the game of hockey with an improvement in the quality of skills of the players. Hockey expects to gain a prominent value as a national sport of the United States by expanding its teams from time to time and attracting new talent from all over the country. The NHL has also left its footprint in the international market. Various hockey organizations present in the country have been trying their best to enhance the popularity of the game by building new arenas in both traditional as well as non-traditional markets. The game of hockey has a very bright future in the United States in the years to come. Thus, it is important that the NHL takes initiatives to improve revenues, thereby increasing the scope of the sport all over the United States. Even after centuries of establishment of the sport, hockey stands as one of the top sports of the United States.
Bass, A. (2011). The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk that Changed the NHL Forever. iUniverse.
Hughes, T. (2015, 03 05). Jeremy Roenick talks NHL expansion, growing hockey in America, and his Stanley Cup pick. Retrieved 03 20, 2015, from SB Nation.
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