Why isn’t Hockey popular in the U.S.?

Owen Ache

Screenshot 2016-06-03 at 12.22.25 PM

Hockey is one of the four major sports in North America and still struggles to get the same amount of popularity that the other three (NBA, NFL, MLB) have. In Canada though, hockey is part of its national identity but in the U.S. it’s often an afterthought in many markets. The NHL has been trying to expand its popularity for years and has seen some increase in attention but still struggles in many of its markets. Many still question on whether the expansion into the west, in Anaheim, Arizona, and Dallas were good for the game in terms of growth, or if the game would be better by having more teams in traditional hockey markets. Even in hockey’s peak months of May and June, as we get closer to deciding the Stanley Cup winner, hockey coverage is still overrun by the NFL, with the draft and offseason storylines , by the NBA playoffs and early season MLB stories. Hockey is great; fast-paced, exciting, physical and it should be more popular in the U.S, and these are some the reasons I think hockey isn’t as popular in the United States

  1. The United States isn’t the best at it


The United States loves being the best at things, especially sports. While the U.S national hockey team always does well in international competition, especially recently and the NHL is has lots of good American players, hockey is not a sport that the U.S. dominates. The biggest stars in the league are usually Canadian or European which can make the sport seem foreign even if it’s played right in their hometown.

  1. Too expensive

It’s hard to try to convince parents to put their kids in hockey, a sport that can cost a lot of money a family , instead of basketball or soccer where all you need is a ball and some shoes. The popularity of hockey will always be affected by the fact it is a sport that isn’t really accessible for lower-income families. The cost is what leads to difficulties in attracting younger kids to play the sport when they are young, which is what will grow the league’s popularity.

  1. Cold Weather Sport

For kids in much of the southern U.S, picking up a basketball with your friends and heading to the park is much easier than finding a rink to skate on. Hockey’s popularity in Canada and northern European countries is largely because of this fact on weather. Becoming a fan of a sport often happens during your youth and if hockey wants to increase its popularity it will need to find a way to get more kids skating in parts of the U.S. that aren’t usually popular for cold weather sports.

  1. Competition

The NHL faces steep competition in the U.S with the NBA, NHL, MLB, and even NASCAR and WWE. Also most countries, university and college athletics is not the same as that the NCAA is in the US. While the NHL may be one of the four major professional sports leagues, its popularity isn’t in the top four because of the popularity of college sports. College football is a way of life in many areas of the U.S. The NHL needs to distinguish itself from all its competition if it wants its popularity to rise.