So Saturday is college hockey”s day in the sun. The Cold War. When college hockey becomes a major sport.
Just like Magic-Bird in “79.
Everyone thinks this will be the best thing to happen to college hockey since whatever the last big milestone in college hockey was.
But I”m not so convinced.
There are a few reasons for this pessimism: First and foremost, this scheme was concocted in East Lansing and what was the last good idea to come from there?
As a general rule of thumb, “great” ideas from “E.L.” really aren”t that great.
They”re usually dumb, and alcohol-induced.
But all cheapshots aside, if the idea here is to showcase college hockey, why is a gimmick needed?
College hockey isn”t what”s being showcased. Michigan State”s ability to play Don King is what”s being showcased.
Can it get fans to pay attention to a game that they normally wouldn”t?
What”s more, this game isn”t even being showcased to such a large audience.
Yes Spartan Stadium will be sold out. But the reality is that college hockey is already very big in East Lansing and Ann Arbor. About as big as it”ll ever be.
The sport has a cult following in these cities, and it”s unlikely that the sport will ever reach college basketball”s level of popularity because hockey doesn”t have the potential that basketball does.
For the most part, hockey is only played in cold-climate areas, and these are the areas where the sport is popular.
While NHL expansion has helped introduce the sport to places like Arizona and Florida, few in these areas care about college hockey, they really just care about their team.
And as far as this game goes, just because fans are going to this game, doesn”t mean that they will attend more games in a month. In fact, once the attention moves back to the same sports that always receive attention, these fans will stop paying attention to college hockey.
Fans who attend this game just because of the hype won”t attend games in two months.
Regular college hockey games won”t get as much attention with the press.
This game has become the party that everyone is going to because everyone else is going.
If college hockey is to grow, it needs to find a new market outside of Midwest and the East Coast.
Like the NHL did, college hockey needs to find a market in college campuses that normally don”t care about the sport.
The NHL had the benefit of marketing players average fans had heard of. College hockey doesn”t have such stars regardless of what Michigan State thinks of goaltender Ryan Miller.
But how does this game reach any of new markets?
ESPN won”t sacrifice college football for the game. In fact, ESPN2 didn”t even pick up the game.
The game will be televised on Fox Regional that”s right, Fox Regional. The fans who will watch the game on television are fans who would watch the game no matter where it was being played.
What”s more, hockey wasn”t made to be played outdoors.
What happens if it rains?
It would hurt the Astroturf at Spartan Stadium.
Now, many are likely wondering, if this game isn”t good for college hockey, why are nearly 80,000 fans going to see this game
Once a ticket becomes hot, people take an interest. But any publicity isn”t good publicity.
The University of Michigan should hold itself to higher standards than shenanigans like helping Michigan State set an attendance record that few know about and fewer care about.
Even if college hockey doesn”t.
Raphael Goodstein can be
reached at email@example.com.