Myths About Canada: We’re Obsessed with Hockey
There are few things more Canadian than a scene of kids playing hockey on a frozen pond. But is hockey really a national obsession?
According to Statistics Canada, just 11 per cent of boys and girls age five to 14 in our country play hockey as a regular activity—that’s fewer than swimming (12 per cent) and far less than soccer (20 per cent). Among Canadian adults, the most popular sporting activity is golf, which first bumped hockey out of the top spot in 1998.
Attention is also waning among fans. A book titled The Emerging Millennials, by University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby, found that teenagers’ interest in the NHL has dropped from 45 per cent to 35 per cent in the past two decades, and that only three in ten adults follow professional hockey very or fairly closely.
Bibby says the sports media assume their own interest in hockey is shared by the vast majority of Canadians. In fact, if CBC gets two million viewers for a Hockey Night in Canada telecast (a typical number), it means 94 per cent of the people in the country found something else to do with their time.
“Hockey has a relatively small number of devoted followers,” says Bibby. “It’s hardly a sport that captivates a nation.”