I Wish Hockey Loved Me Like I Love Hockey

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I would do something that I haven't done in a while. You guessed it: I decided to attend a hockey match. Don’t get it twisted; I used to routinely go to matches, but my experience at the All Star Game last year jaded me for a while.

Before last year, I would routinely go with my white friends and all my black friends would ask me if I was really going to watch hockey. If they did go with me, I would hear the obligatory, “Where are all the brothas at?”

Honestly, I was really mad at a lot of them until I decided to go to the NHL All Star game last year in Raleigh, NC. I live in the Bull City (Durham, NC), and the RBC Center is only ten minutes from my house, so there isn’t any real excuse not to go see hockey except for the fact that my friends refuse to go with me. I didn’t understand it before that weekend, because they would come to my house and watch hockey.  On occasion, we even went to sports bars to watch games as well. These guys would even call me from time-to-time and ask if the Hurricanes won, but they never wanted to go to the game.

The problem was that they didn’t feel welcome at the game. I really didn't understand this, but my All Star experience showed me why. With a national audience and players from across the entire US in attendance, I paid attention to the environment.

The items being sold had no sense of multicultural flavor. Honestly, everything in the joint was catering to white folks. I’m by far the least racist person I know, so it took me a while to figure this thing out. Ironically, it wasn’t me that saw it first; it was a little white boy sitting beside me. He turned to his dad and said, “Why aren’t there any black people here besides the man beside us?” Then he said “Where are the Hispanics and the Asian people at, dad?” I looked up and the kid was right. I saw, maybe, seven black people in attendance and not a single Hispanic person in attendance. There were about five Asian people in attendance, but they were with a predominately white crowd.

I kept waiting for the music to take a turn. You know, I was waiting to hear that one crossover rap song or the one hip-hop song that every white person and black person can sing without seeing the words, and it never happened. It occurred to me on this day that the audience that was being targeted didn’t include my demographic. It’s a shame that’s the case though, because it’s really poor marketing. If you think about it, the only people that are going to go to hockey games are the ones being targeted. Good marketing tries to pull in people that wouldn’t usually go to these types of games.

I know what you are thinking: “yeah he says he’s not racist, but he sure sounds racist to me.” That’s not the case. I am just a good businessman. Good business isn’t targeting people who will come anyway; good business is bringing people who wouldn’t normally think about you into your establishment. Let’s just say that I can understand why hockey rates so low on the list of sports, just behind WWE wrestling and NASCAR. It's not that it's less exciting, but it's because they really need to reach out to more than one demographic.

Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out!

9 Replies to “I Wish Hockey Loved Me Like I Love Hockey”

  1. Sorry-BUT it`s the same in Boston,NewYork $ Phill. And it`s not about not having ice rings in the backyard or pools.Look to White business men if you
    wish for Hockey to love US.Good words have a great day.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this one. You are right though. When I attend Hockey events, I rarely see any black people there. However there are a few more Hispanic people in attendance. Cost is one of the major factors you don't get more diversity in this sport. Ice time is expensive, equipment is expensive, and participation is down due to all of these factors.

    On the other hand, golf is expensive and they are attracting minorities so maybe there is some validity to what you are saying. Golf uses Tiger Woods and other minorities from other countries to promote their sport there so it can be done. Great post brother Simmons.

  3. I can't really comment on your experience specifically, and as a white male I'm sure I've overlooked the topic to an extent, however that doesn't seem to be the case in Philadelphia. They do play "crossover" songs, specifically annoying the living hell out of me by playing terrible Black Eyed Peas songs. Though I don't really know what type of marketing at a sporting event is catered to one race over the other, so I really can't touch on that one.

    At Flyers games, they promote products, mostly food and merchandise, that is in no way race-specific in my mind.

    However, the attendees are almost universally white, no denying that, and there really is no Asian/Hispanic culture prevalent. Though I think the Flyers have a slight advantage with Wayne Simmonds on the roster to help attract more African Americans, I think it's a more difficult issue than simply altering the marketing or in-game event.

    The majority of hockey players are white, so I would guess it's difficult for other races to get too geared up about it. I think it's like every other sport throughout history … as the players and coaches become more diverse, so does the fan base. It seems to be a chicken and egg type of thing, but I haven't seen here in Philadelphia the NHL trying to cater to a strictly white crowd. Maybe the Flyers don't specifically cater to other races either, but it seems to be driven by hockey promotions, not race promotions.

    That's my experience anyway, from a far less in-tune perspective for sure.

  4. There are a lot of factors to it, but some are not as apparent.

    Up until last season, I attended quite a few Devils games thanks to a college friend having season tickets. Something that stood out to me was a surprising number of blacks attending the games. They may have not had a numerous presence for rivalry games with teams like the Flyers and Rangers, but they were certainly around for teams like the Hurricanes, Sabres and others.

    Then I guessed what it was; community outreach. Certainly, some will come for pure interest, but the Devils made strides in community outreach when they moved to the predominantly-black city of Newark. On top of employing a lot of local residents in the stadium, the team probably has a greater presence of minority fans than others. I imagine that Philly - and Simmonds' old stomping grounds in Los Angeles - can and has made concentrated marketing pitches based on him being there.

    I wrote about this, sort of, two+ years ago. The interest in the game is growing, but there's so much to it.

    1. O-Boy the one North city out of the mix is NewArk N.J.They took City money so outreach community marking was in the Contract.happy a great day.

  5. @I'am Not Madd
    You bring up some interesting arguments.

    I can understand your point completely.. The thing is this was all star weekend. This is the perfect opportunity to make a difference. That is why it was so magnified in my perception.

    I can respect that. Some places are more advanced in reaching out. I guess our day will come. Even when we had Weeks on goal there was no reaching out to minority presence. Hopefully we get more involvement in future years.

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