Thursday, October 9, 2008
Economy on Ice
Ice time is expensive. And ice time with sticks and pucks and mountains of reinforced Kevlar gear, especially here in the States, is even more expensive.
There's an intern in our athletics department who played for St. Catharines, and in the OHL (Mississauga, I believe). He said he almost played in Buffalo for a year, but "they wanted me to pay them like $10,000 to play, and I had to buy my own equipment." Fuck the heck?
I have an ethereal embedded mental concept of money, but I do read kunstler.com every day it is updated, and a few other links that spring from there, and I have eyes and ears, so I know we are possibly, completely financially toe-tagged as a country, as a hemisphere, and maybe as a world. That's why I'm planting a giant garden next year, learning to hunt, buying a horse, and building a still in the basement of my 178-year-old house, which actually was home to a functioning basement still during Prohibition.
And I don't know what this means for hockey. Forbes thinks it do. (thanks to Puck Daddy for picking this up this morning.) At least for a few hockey teams, the magazine thinks the recession/depression/biblical catasrophe means emminent relocation.
Now, sit down for a moment, preferably not in a rocking chair, because ... yes ... the Islanders are amongst the doomed.
If the Lighthouse Project goes through, it's very possible the Islanders would be off of this list. I'm tempted, largely because I read kunstler.com every day it is updated, to suggest that the suburban concept of Long Island Living might suffer greatly in this financial crisis, but that kind of thought is way beyond my scope. I do know the Lighthouse idea fits it with some of the concepts of post-suburban devlopment (I'm completely making that up to appear to be smarter than I am), but it's overall location might be a strain. (no trains lead up to the site - but that might be rectified.)
If Long Island suffers greatly, the Islanders suffer. But, I'm not sure if everyone is suffering so badly that relocation would even be possible. Who's going to buy a hockey team in a depression? The same investors who were going to buy the Chiefs? In short, if Forbes thinks it has some window on the future that will help them understand the larger ramifications of a massive financial collapse that appears to be in "phase change" right now (I can read!), they actually are much dumber than I am, because at least I can admit I don't know a fucking thing. Now, go read The Black Swan.
What about the kids?
As much as I enjoy the Islanders and all of the misery that implies, my understanding of NHL finances is so limited my thoughts on the topic are as meaningful as a piss in the ocean. But, I do have a pretty good grasp of what it's like to live on a short budget, with kids, and with kids you'd like to see on skates someday. This Thing is going to have a great effect on youth hockey in this country, I foolishly predict.
1. Ice time is expensive.
2. Driving to fucking Detroit or Ottawa every week with cars carrying two or three nine-year-olds because adults are crazy is expensive.
3. Composite sticks are expensive. (And if you can tell me why anyone playing at any level below the NHL or at least major junior needs a $100 hockey stick, I will listen, and then throw up on you.)
Hockey has always been a middle-class game, even in Canada where teams essentially are subsidized. (think of football. would it be the National Game if kids had to pay for equipment and field time?) And that is pronounced in America. As the middle class gets pinched and choked, the luxuries get pinched and cut.
I don't know that it is a bad thing. Local programs might actually get a boost if travel hockey is cut down to size. Kids whose parents aren't angling for a scholarship might actually stick with hockey past the age of 9, when, insanely, dumbass-crazy adults start making levels out of travel teams.
It might shrink, the whole thing. Southern hockey might suffer. It might once again be a very specifically regional game. I think that's Ok. (and I am not one to slag hockey fans in Florida because "they don't know the game" or some horseshit, as if this is such a complicated game you couldn't possibly grasp the nuances without having watched Don Cherry every Saturday since you were four.)
In the end, our immediate worlds might get a lot more simple and localized in the coming years. Hockey might do the same.
Posted by Bryan Chambala at 9:35 AM