EAST HANTS: Life in Canada, especially the rural areas, is centred on the community rink. Our unrequited love for hockey is the cultural touchstone that Canada is known for around the world; with multiple gold medals, the majority of hall-of-fame players, and over half of professional players calling the true north their home.
However, there’s a growing problem with this identity: hockey is becoming too expensive for players and parents to keep up. It’s not longer a game played exclusively on ponds in the dead of winter; it’s become long weeks, spring training camps, thousands of dollars in league fees and equipment, and hundreds of kilometers of travel.
Given the amount of players in Nova Scotia alone, one has to wonder—what’s the real cost of minor hockey?
To get an answer, The Weekly Press sat down with Enfield-based hockey dad Ryan Kidney, to discuss the triumphs and tribulations of having two children involved in the higher levels of Canada’s game.
“Both of my boys play fairly high level for their age,” said Kidney. “It is one of those things where a lot of kids can’t afford to play hockey anymore—if you look at the numbers across Canada, they keep dropping. Whereas if you look at Soccer, Baseball, Football, or basketball, the numbers are probably trending upwards; it’s really a shame that less and less kids get the chance to play the sport.”
For Kidney, having his kids involved with the sport was just for love of the game.
“I played when I was a kid,” he said of what he enjoys about the game. “I love the team aspect of it. I love the sport generally—it’s our national pastime. They got into it when they were young; you kind of build your social networks through it, and it becomes part of your life. You become a hockey parent, and hockey becomes a big focus of your time, your effort, and your money.”
Hockey requires a large amount of commitment to the game to remain competitive, or even move up through leagues. It doesn’t matter if you’re on ice for a house league, or a Major team—you spend the majority of your week doing something involved with the sport.
“If you’re playing at a rep level, it’s probably five nights out of seven that you’re doing...