Major league baseball, football, basketball and soccer have one thing in common. The player can make it from a lower-income family. Hockey is not so easy.
The costs beyond registration for our national sport, I have been told, can be as high as $4,000 to $8,000 per year. I can’t imagine a low-income family with a talented player affording these costs. These include transportation, hotels, extra ice time, summer camps and equipment.
This year, I am familiar with an average player from a low-income family who played on a novice team. Not a rep team by any means, but there were three out-of-town tournaments and the closing party is at West Edmonton Mall.
Basketball and football players play for school and college teams and are not required to meet these costs. Baseball and soccer are on a somewhat different track to the big leagues, but are affordable.
My observations are in no way a criticism of the novice team. It was well coached, very organized, and the communication was excellent.
It must be noted that there are two fine organizations, Jumpstart and KidSport, that do provide financial assistance for registrations and some equipment at the beginning of the season. It is my understanding that Red Deer Minor Hockey does have a fund for some additional assistance.
There are no easy solutions, but it seems that we should look at some alternatives to make our national sport more inclusive.
Larry Pizzey, Red Deer