by Mike Ries
It has been a month since my last article, being honest being in the midst of another lockdown has taken the wind out of my sails. Watching NHL arenas in the U.S. with full crowds and then the NFL playoffs on the weekend playing in front of 70, 000 plus fans has made me more than envious. But, as with all situations there is always someone doing worse than you and the state of minor hockey in Ontario is suffering everytime we as Ontarians endure another lockdown.
Minor hockey in Ontario encompasses more than 100,000 children of all ages and to have it shuttered once again by the Ontario Government is irresponsible and harmful to the development socially of the children involved. Most kids who play minor hockey, play for the enjoyment and the interaction of their peers. Most will never play beyond organized minor hockey and that is just fine. Everyone should experience playing the game we as hockey fans love no matter the level. Young children and teenagers can go to a packed Costco 7 days a week, but can not play organized minor hockey makes little to no sense.
The OHL has made the decision to go forward with their season, albeit with no fans which is good for the players involved as they can further their aspirations to play pro hockey. As a gate driven league, most teams will struggle to survive and only recieve money at this stage from their television deal with TSN and local sponsors. Last season the Ontario government pledged $2.35 million in post secondary scholarships as the season was cut short. The players last season that were draft eligible and overage players suffered the most with the season being shut down early. This season the World Junior Championships were cancelled before they were a few days old. A showcase of the top talent from across the globe.
The NHL first and foremost is a business and they have moved most home games from the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs to later on the schedule to coincide with the reopening of Ontario. That is a smart business decision by Gary Bettman and the NHL braintrust, what it hurts is the average fan who has planned on a certain game to attend. A minor inconvenience to most, but to the family that has planned a vacation to attend an NHL game in Ontario during these trying times it is harmful to the psyche of the family unit and hockey fans young and old. Considering a family of four would most likely spend north of a thousand dollars for tickets, hotel, food, souvenirs and time off work.
As far as organized sports go Ontario is lagging far behind the rest of the world and who is suffering the most are the young boys and girls that have had their season shut down by a government that appears to lack a distinct direction in the midst of what we are going through. One can only hope that we are coming to an end to all of this and we can return to some semblance of our previous lives.
Do not forget to visit https://fiveforfightingauthentics.com/ for everything hockey