Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Does NHL Lockout Open the Door for MLS to Become the 4th Most Popular Sport?
Hockey has been considered by sports pundits to be the fourth most important pro sport in the U.S. Hockey cards were popular in the 70's, sports reporters rattled off scores during their sports broadcasts for decades and fighting has always been an attraction for fans.
Even though Soccer has been the most played sport by youth for decades, hockey has seemingly always fallen in line behind football, basketball and baseball in popularity as a spectator sport.
The NHL was able to shake the sport's reputation as a Northern or Northeastern sport and spread its image to warm weather areas in the U.S. where either frozen ponds don't exist or they exist with ice so thin-birds can fall in the water.
This lockout doesn't help hockey's reputation as a spectator sport at all. If the lockout continues and can't get settled, any momentum hockey had built up over the years, could all be wiped away with one failed season.
Obviously, there are torrents of fans who do care about this lockout and want it to end, but the mainstream media is not really covering their point of view or any other aspect of the lockout. In some ways, the Lockout is proving to be a non-story. Hockey's relevance has always been a little shaky with the mainstream U.S. press.
Meanwhile, goals in Soccer are being broadcast all the time on sports highlight shows. And, in Canada, the NHL's most passionate base of fans, MLS expansion talk are part of the sports rumor mill and the comings and goings of teams are heated discussions. There are already teams in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto and there are Division 2 teams in Edmonton and Ottawa.
The unfortunate mess of the NHL's labor talks and owner frustrations are bringing the sport of hockey and its mark, profile and traditions down in two countries. MLS would never admit it, but the timing could never have been better.
Originally posted early November 2012