by Dan Adkisson
Originally played back in 1875, when Canada’s athletes were responsible for the ideation of the game, hockey has enthralled fans across the globe for a century and a half with its thrilling and electric nature. Renowned for its brawls and bust-ups, the sport is an incredible adrenaline rush to be a part of.
While hockey is pretty popular across the world, it is yet to overtake other popular sports in the number one spot in the majority of regions. It is certainly on the rise in other parts of the world though, such as Britain.
Where is hockey ‘Number One’?
The Northern US states have a lot of natural ice rinks that the cold weather brings, which make for the perfect practice grounds for aspiring players. Surprisingly, a recent study revealed that Minnesota is the only state in the US in which hockey is the most streamed sport online, while the rest of the US’ preference is dominated by the likes of American football, basketball and football – which is seeing a significant rise across the country following the increased participation in the sport globally. This recent study of streaming statistics also indicated that the growth of hockey’s popularity in recent years has remained relatively stagnant nationwide, despite the NHL’s success.
At the center of the love for hockey in Minnesota lies the local NHL team Minnesota Wild. Sitting in the upper half of the table in December, the team looks to be building toward a positive end to the season, coming off the back of an impressive win streak. Other than the top level of hockey, the Minnesota Boys State Hockey Tournament also attracts an impressive 135,000 fans each year who travel to the Xcel Energy Center for a wild display of the sport.
Across the ocean, the Czech Republic, Finland and Norway are other countries in which hockey is regarded as the nation’s most popular sport – a quick look at the cold climate of these countries may serve as an indication of why this is the case. Each country also has their top-level hockey league – Czech Extraliga, Liiga and GET Ligaen, respectively. Of course, the sport is also held in incredibly high regard in its country of origin, Canada. With an astounding estimated fanbase of over two billion, one ranking lists hockey as the third-largest sport in the world.
For the regions in which hockey is not so favoured, a need for investment into the infrastructure behind hockey leagues arises. While the hockey scene in Britain is on the rise – credited to the work of Sheffield Steeler’s businessman Tony Smith – the domestic industry may be one for other countries to study to boost the sport’s prevalence. With increased opportunities, more and more people can fall in love with the sport and share the same love that Minnesota displays for hockey.
With appropriate support for the sport, the future of sports streaming and preference, in general, may just be more heavily populated with hockey – only time will tell. For now, keep tuning in to the NHL and enjoy the thrills of the game.