By DYLAN DACOSTA
We’re a hockey nation, or so we are told; hockey is in our blood, and most other things are just a distraction.
So if we are a nation that is devoted solely to hockey, our youth should reflect that. Yet if we use the youth of this country as an example, it turns out that maybe hockey isn’t quite as big of a monopoly as it advertises itself to be.
In fact, hockey doesn’t even have the majority of registered players in this country; that title belongs to soccer.
But wait, this can’t be the same soccer that we’ve been told won’t ever take off here, can it?
In fact, soccer is currently the participatory sport with the most registered players in the entire country.
According to the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), registration for soccer in Canada has increased by almost 200 per cent from less than 300,000 in 1988 to almost 900,000 in 2007; a number that they expect will rise again to over one million registered players in the next few years.
And hockey’s numbers come nowhere close; according to an article by Canada Newswire, there were 577,000 registered minor hockey players across the country in 2011 – a number that pales in comparison to soccer’s enrolment.
Granted, soccer is a much cheaper alternative to enrol a child in than hockey is, but the youth of Canada are still flocking to a sport that isn’t supposed to be so highly coveted.
Unfortunately for a sport that is so popular to play, the funding that it receives is miniscule compared to that of hockey.
Hockey receives more funding than any other sport in Canada, which isn’t equitable.
New hockey arenas are always being constructed and companies are constantly donating to minor hockey while soccer lies behind, forgotten.
A sport as popular (at least in terms of youth enrolment) as soccer deserves more funding and an amount of attention that better reflects the number of participants.
Through our current favouritism of hockey, we have lost the opportunity to develop players and give opportunities to athletes in other sports.
If more focus was placed on funding other sports (especially if they bring in more kids than hockey) then we might have a more balanced athletic landscape rather than being the country that is only good at hockey.