On the world stage, Canada is known for a few things: maple syrup, moose, politeness and, of course, hockey. The latter is a sport in which Canadians have celebrated many momentous occasions, from Paul Henderson’s Summit Series game-winning goals in 1972 to Sidney Crosby’s golden goal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games to win the gold medal.

However, although those and other iconic moments have been part of Canadian history, participation in hockey has been trending downward, which could lead to other countries having those magical moments in the future.

Hockey Canada Registration

In the above graphic provided by statista, we can see that in the 2020-21 year, there was a dramatic falloff in the number of registered hockey players in Canada. Now, of course, we can explain the downturn with the COVID-19 pandemic.

That said, there has been a steady decline from the high-water mark set in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 years of over 700,000 participants. In the year prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Hockey Canada saw its lowest participation levels since the start of the decade.

Why Are We Seeing A Downturn In Participation?

I think there are a few factors at play that have led to a reduction in Canadian youth playing hockey. The first is the cost. To gear up a young kid in a full hockey kit and pay for ice time and registration runs nearly $1,000. That’s a tough pill to swallow for many families across the country, not to mention most kids grow out of the gear quickly when they are young.

Another consideration is the growth of different sports across Canada. In basketball, the Vince Carter effect continues to be strong and we see newer young talent such as R.J. Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Andrew Wiggins and Jamal Murray. That influx of top Canadian NBA players over the last decade or so has inspired more young Canadians to pick up the game and it’s much more affordable – you just need a pair of sneakers.

Lastly, with Canada having a great immigration program and a wonderfully diverse population, some children are taking up sports that weren’t necessarily popular in Canada until more recently. For example, on many weekends you will see some folks playing cricket in local parks and to that point the Global T20 League continues to grow.

In addition, soccer has seen its popularity grow with MLS expanding rapidly and the new Canadian Premier League being a great feeder system. Young superstar Alphonso Davies from Edmonton is now playing in the Bundesliga and this will only help increase participation in that sport in Canada.

Ultimately, we do see a dip in hockey registration, but the growth in other areas is only a positive and helps build up Canada on the world sporting stage.

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