Puck Daddy - NHL

Follow the logic of Chicago Sun-Times writer Richard Roeper in his column about the Chicago Blackhawks' bandwagon in the city:

A. Sportscasters and newspapers are claiming "the entire city" is rooting for the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup.

B. After what must have been an extensive genetic screening process, Roeper "couldn't spot one fan who appeared to be a minority" at United Center. No, not even this guy. Or Michael Jordan.

C. Hence, the "entire city" can't be rooting for the Blackhawks because there appear to be minorities in the city. And because, evidently, generalities in sports writing are no longer acceptable in Chicago media.

There's a fascinating study to be written about professional hockey's obstacles in captivating black and Latino fans, from engrained cultural bias to marketing challenges to the price of going to the game — an essential impediment that Roeper doesn't mention in his column.

This is not that fascinating study; this is a superficial, soft inference of racism in hockey fandom, with only this passage coming to close to identifying why, according to Roeper, minorities don't care about the Blackhawks:

Even though the NBA is dominated by black players, the fan base seems more diverse than the NHL's. Fans of all races grew up around the games of basketball, football and baseball. Partially because it's much more expensive to outfit a kid for hockey than it is to throw a soccer ball or a basketball on a playing surface and have an instant game, there are a lot of adult fans who never so much as played a game of hockey in their lives.

Because everyone who watched the Kentucky Derby has ridden a horse, right?

We're not being Pollyanna about this: It's not easy for the NHL to break through cultural apathy and convince minority sports fans to give hockey a chance. It's the reason the league is forging partnerships with artists like Snoop Dogg (more on that later) and breaking hockey out from the arena into stadiums — trying to trick the brain of a football or baseball fan into accepting the Game in a different venue.

What makes Roeper's column so daft is that it completely misses that big picture: It takes something that goes beyond the norm in the NHL to attract casual and, yes, "minority" fans. Maybe they aren't paying playoff ticket prices, but are they out at the bars? Watching at home? Will they be at the parade if the Blackhawks win? And if so, will Richard Roeper be there asking to see photos of their parents to properly identify them as "minorities?"

Thumbs down, sir.

Stick-tap to David J. for the story.

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog