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11-16-2012, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by lazerbullet View Post
I'm not saying that the same proportion of boys choose hockey. I'm saying that more boys play hockey. In absolute terms.
1) This seems to be true, but we've had a hell of a time trying to put our finger on HOW many more are playing. Canada alone is difficult to judge, because the population hasn't simply multiplied at a natural-replacement pace. A big chunk of the growth, especially in the cities, has come from immigration. Some immigrant kids might grow up to play, but the majority won't. And it's not like we can take the raw population of European countries as being 100% hockey oriented. Some consider it a secondary sport, others like Austria and Latvia simply don't have enough resources invested to make a difference. Then there's Russia, which went from effectively no national program to an elite military-style machine and then eroded in recent years, and the vast majority of this activity took place in a small area around Moscow and St. Petersburg... how the heck do we evaluate their "hockey population"? Every time we have this conversation, someone throws out the idea that the hockey population has mirrored the raw population and grown by about 5x, and every time we examine the numbers country-by-country we find that it's not nearly that much.

2) Increasing the absolute number of players doesn't necessarily lead to a more productive playing environment. Population growth patterns in North America for the past 50 years have been characterized by suburbanization and westward migration. That has led to the formation of new communities, new rinks, new leagues. But those rinks aren't necessarily a better place to learn the sport than the urban rinks of the pre-War era, or the frozen ponds that were more commonly used outside the city. Moving the hockey-playing population away from the traditional centers has expanded the sport, but not necessarily to the point of generating new centers of equal productivity. Each country has its own story, but in general it's not a simple as "more players = more elite players". In fact it's very easy to ruin a talent pipeline by clogging it with mediocre, over-coached robots which are common in today's junior programs.

Many "potential Harveys" are being left on the street so to speak? It doesn't make sense. If kids play hockey, then they are given a chance to succeed and develop.
It makes sense when you consider what happens to these "potential Harveys" between the time they learn to skate and the time they reach their athletic prime. Are they being optimized for genius-level performance, encouraged to rewrite the rules and show everyone else a new horizon in the sport? Highly, highly doubtful under today's developmental conditions.

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