The colour of hockey
Bottom line: hockey needs a transcendent African-American star, a Tiger Woods, to market the game to a black audience. "If you had somebody of that caliber who was African-American, then, yeah, I think that would break the barrier," says James Jemison, a black hockey fan from Atlanta.
It is, when you think it through, part and parcel of a league that has forged ahead in bringing its foreign game into the south. If you're trying to sell hockey in Atlanta, you had better be selling it to the African-American community as well. That means celebrating the 10 or so black players who are in the NHL at any given time, and thanking the good Lord that one of them is good enough to wear a ‘C' when the All-Star Game comes to a city such as Atlanta.Two interesting pieces, both well worth a read. Perhaps I'm naive, but I honestly hadn't expected this to be the direction the coverage of an all-star game in Atlanta would take, but then again, the NHL hasn't tried to disguise its sell-job in Georgia.
I didn't see the skills competition yesterday, but what I did catch was the NHL Network's coverage of the teams' practices yesterday, and it was hard to miss the fact Usher was the event's master of ceremonies. (Wyclef Jean, too, was scheduled to make an appearance.)
And apparently the majority of the radio promotion for this weekend was put on 790 The Zone instead of the Thrashers' flagship station.
That's all fine by me; I'd love to see all sorts of new fans take an interest in hockey. I think it's great that Snoop Dogg has become somewhat of an ambassador for the Anaheim Ducks, and hopefully more celebs follow suit.
It'd be great, too, to see more synergy between the Big Three sports — all of which have far more black representation than hockey — and the NHL.
In reference to the Time piece: As far as I'm concerned, Iginla is this sport's Tiger Woods — or at least as close as you can get in a team game. He's really an undermarketed gem for the league, a true star in every sense of the word. (And the fact that he's Canadian would seem to reflect the game's heritage anyway.)
In any event, I'm curious what others think of the NHL's appeal to a black audience.
Labels: All-star game