America Doesn't Like Hockey
We Canadians have always suffered from an inferiority complex. This is the result of sharing the world's longest undefended border with the most powerful nation in the world. We have more space but only a tenth of the populous. More often then not, we are only validated by our acceptance south of the border. Nothing is truly great unless it's embraced in America as well as our home and native land.
In Canada, we are blessed with a thoroughly entertaining sport that we love and follow closely. Saturday night's Maple Leaf-Canadiens match-up on CBC was watched by an average per-minute audience of 1,604,000. That was the largest regular-season audience for the show since March 15, 2003, when 1,689,000 watched the Toronto-Vancouver game. In a country of this size for a regular season game, that's a lot of people. Canada is madly in love with hockey. This is a great sport. Maybe it's time we accept reality...
The reality we need to accept is the simple fact America doesn't like hockey. The numbers don't lie. ABC's Saturday afternoon broadcast of three regional games scored a 1.2 rating, the lowest-rated sports event of the weekend, finishing behind NBC's U.S. curling championships and Sunday's Arena Football League games (1.3). That's right, curling and arena football attract more viewers south of the border than an NHL hockey game.
The numbers are pitiful. Outside of a few pockets of rabid hockey fans, Americans are generally disinterested. The sooner we accept this fact and move on, the better. ABC is in the final year of its five-year deal with the NHL. I don't know why they'd want a ratings loser, but I can certainly tell you they won't pay much for it. Throughout the years there have been moments when we hoped NHL hockey would take off in the United States. The miracle on ice, Wayne Gretzky's trade to Los Angeles, the USA's World Cup victory, all of these events could have sparked mass appeal for our beloved sport. Unfortunately, they didn't.
My point is this: the fact America doesn't like hockey shouldn't have an effect on our love of the game. We Canadians do love hockey, from coast to coast. This is an amazing sport and worthy of our love. America tunes out and it's their loss. They don't know what they're missing.
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