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Hockey Deserves to Be More Diverse

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The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded in 1917 and consisted of six teams, nicknamed the “Original Six,” which consisted of The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. Since then, the game, as well as the league, has grown tremendously. The NHL consists of 32 teams stretching across 19 states. Although hockey stretches across the United States and has fans from all around the world, it is a predominantly white sport, with most fans being white men. 

The truth is hockey is the most expensive sport to play. The pads, skates, sticks and equipment are just the tip of the iceberg, costing hundreds of dollars. This does not include ice time, travel costs and where the nearest ice rink is located.

Even outside of playing the sport, being a fan is costly. Tickets to NHL games cost hundreds, while merch like jerseys cost way over $100. This makes you wonder who can afford to play this sport and what type of people the game is being catered to. The National Hockey League, along with individual teams, has been working on trying to grow the game. The newest expansion team to join the NHL, The Seattle Kraken has made way with expanding the game to everyone in their community. The Kraken Community Iceplex has created programs for kids and adults to learn how to skate, how to play the game and several other programs.

While The New York Rangers have vocally supported organizations like Hockey in Harlem, which is a non-profit community organization that uses the game of hockey to teach important values like teamwork and responsibility. Outside of a $54 annual USA Hockey registration fee, the program is free and offered throughout the year. Teams have introduced theme nights like Women Empowerment Night, Hispanic Heritage Night, The Next Generation Night and Pride Night to welcome fans and grow the game to a wider audience. Inclusivity is an important factor in growing the game, for all fans to feel and believe they belong in this sport, while the same can be said about players. Jason Robertson who plays for the Dallas Stars, and his brother Nick, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs, are only the second and third Filipino Americans in NHL History. In an interview with D Magazine, Robertson talked about looking back now at his life from when he was younger, that it could be odd not to see any players that looked just like you.

The talk of growing the game lately has sparked interest by well-known rapper Snoop Dogg. The Ottawa Senators are in the market to be bought. Actor Ryan Reynolds has expressed interest and has placed a bid for $1 billion. Snoop Dogg has joined Neko Sparks, a businessman, to bid with hopes of acquiring the team.

While this had raised some eyebrows, Snoop Dogg has publicly said he wants to make the game more accessible to those it would not normally reach, make it more diverse and wants to take more of a grassroots approach. This past week, Snoop even said that the NHL does a bad job of marketing by not having some of the superstars of the NHL everywhere, as well as advertising events like the Winter Classic and Stadium Series games. The NHL needs to get with the times and promote the game more, just like other sports leagues are promoted, tv commercials, social media and more advertising of games. 

While the game is moving in the right direction, and the NHL is making progress, more needs to be done.

Words by Shannon McGee.

Shannon McGee was born and raised in New York and attends Hunter College, where she is pursuing a degree in media studies with a concentration in journalism. Shannon is currently on the journey to use her degree to work alongside the world of hockey.

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