Posted on January 23, 2020

‘Too White’ NHL Rises in the Ratings

Peter Bradley, American Renaissance, January 23, 2020

Last month, the National Hockey League (NHL) came under the microscope — again — for being “too white.” There have been several “hockey too white” panics over the past few years. But this round of criticism was spurred by the shaming of legendary Canadian hockey broadcaster and former player, Don Cherry. He came under fire for noticing that “diverse” people in Toronto don’t wear poppies during Remembrance Day in Canada.

I live in Mississauga, nobody wears — very few people wear a poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it! Downtown Toronto, nobody wears a poppy. You people love — that come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy. These guys paid for your way of life, the life you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.

Of course, Mr. Cherry, 85, was promptly given the boot for pointing out the obvious: Non-whites don’t care about Remembrance Day or wearing poppies to commemorate fallen white soldiers, but the media used his comments to attack whites and hockey.

Richard Warnica of the National Post claims that while “too white” hockey is dying, “diverse” basketball is thriving. He tells us why in a recent column comparing Toronto’s hockey team, the Maple Leafs and its basketball team, the Raptors.

Hockey’s cultural dark days have come just as basketball seems headed in the opposite direction in Canada. Where hockey gets painted as old, white, boring and male, basketball looks like the future. ‘Just go to a Leafs game, and look around at that audience, and then go to a Raptors game, it’s totally different,’ said Brian Cooper, the chair of the MKTG marketing agency in Toronto.

Mr. Warnica quotes a dutiful white couple on the joys of basketball:

‘It’s lively, man,’ Ross Regal said, when asked what keeps bringing them back to Toronto Raptors basketball games. ‘You come to a game they pump the music, they incorporate the fans. Leafs games—’ he added, before his wife interrupted. ‘They’re boring,’ Shirley Regal said. ‘We’ve had good seats and I don’t see why people like them.’

An article in the Wall Street Journal was tactfully titled, “Diversify or Die: The National Hockey League Has a Demography Problem.”

Hockey is thriving

Yet according to the ratings, more people are watching hockey and fewer people are watching basketball.

Through the first 15 games of the 2019-2020 season, NBC Sports delivered its best NHL viewership in four years — up 24 percent compared to last season through the same point. Attendance is also up slightly over last year. Television ratings for the 2019 Stanley Cup final (in June) between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues hit a 25-year highs.

The NBA viewership is down 11 percent from the same time last season. More blacks than whites now watch NBA games, with a reported 47 percent of NBA fans black and only 34 percent whites. Hispanic and Asian viewership for the NBA is at 11 and 8 percent, respectively.

It’s also worth pointing out that the main NHL television contract in the US is with NBC Sports, while the NBA has contracts with ESPN and TBS, which reach a much larger audience. Also, there are seven Canadian teams in the NHL but only one Canadian team in the NBA. Canadian audiences aren’t even counted in the US television ratings. Hockey outdraws basketball in Canada, even in “diverse” Toronto.

How about football? The NFL has famously been having a hard time keeping its fans. This year, viewers were up a bit but still far below the 2015 peak. Strangely, the media have not warned the NFL (or the NBA) to “diversify or die.” Yet decreasing numbers of white players in the 70-percent black NFL may be having an effect; it’s mostly whites who are turning off the sport.

NFL Regular Season viewership average:

2019: 16.5 million

2018: 15.8 million

2017: 15.0 million

2016: 16.5 million

2015: 18.1 million

Journalists who claim professional hockey is dying due to lack of diversity probably don’t know the actual ratings for the sport. Their point seems only to be to demonize whites. Why let the truth get in the way?

Whites on ice

One point they manage to back into is that attending a hockey game is an overwhelmingly white experience. I usually attend a game or so each year, and I went to one in a very “diverse” city in October. Both the players on the ice and the fans in the stands were about 90 percent white, which matches the player demographics of the NHL. Most of the non-white fans were Asians attending with groups of white friends. The city is majority black, but blacks were only about 1 or 2 percent of the fans. I am told the Vancouver Canucks have a decent Asian fan base in that increasingly Chinese-dominated city.

The player jerseys many fans wear are all of white hockey stars, past and present. The music boomed throughout the arena is usually organ music, rock music, or 80s music. They still play Journey, Van Halen, and Rush at NHL games. Despite groups of young men drinking beer and supporting different teams, there were no fights or even confrontations off the ice. Even the on-ice scuffles are usually broken up quickly. Many attractive young white couples were in attendance. Let us hope they will soon raise the next generation of hockey players.

The NBA (75 percent black) is only slightly more racially diverse than the NHL (93% white).  In fact, the demographics of the NHL more closely match the populations of the US and Canada. The NHL also has plenty of diversity, with players from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic and other nations.

So what if the NHL does not reflect the increasing racial diversity of the US and Canada? Hispanics are about the only people who like Ranchero and Salsa music. Do they need to get more white performers to stay relevant? How about more blacks for Asian language newspapers and TV networks in the US and Canada? Do historically black colleges risk decline if they can’t start attracting Samoans, Indians and Arabs?

Maybe non-whites don’t really care about hockey. I doubt it bothers them at all that white people are having a good time without them.

The leadership of the NHL is as politically correct and spineless as the rest of corporate America (and Canada). Hockey brass have been pushing “diversity initiatives” for a long time and even tried to promote black player P.K. Subban, a very good though hardly great defenseman, as the face of hockey. He was the cover athlete for the official NHL 19 video game.

The NHL officially celebrates black history month and fawningly promotes the first black player in hockey — the mediocre Willie O’Ree. And just last week I saw a game on TV in which the players had rainbow flags on their sticks to promote LGBT.

Whites in the NHL are tough on the ice but fold like origami off the ice — just like whites everywhere else. Many — perhaps most — players undoubtedly don’t like being told they are the wrong color and having to celebrate stupid leftist causes, but anyone who speak out will end up like Don Cherry.

All the diversity initiatives so far have failed to change the face or feel of the sport. That’s good news for whites who — like everyone else — like to cheer for people who look like themselves.