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Top 10 reasons why Manitobans play hockey

by Ezra Ginsburg  |  September 23, 2020 3:30 pm

Results from Hockey Manitoba’s 2019 – 2020 End of Season Survey suggest that participants register in hockey for a variety of reasons, including the love of the game, to have fun, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. At Hockey Manitoba, developing programs that focus on the core needs of our members is paramount so having a good understanding of why our members play hockey is crucial in order to grow and improve the game.

1. It is safe to say the main reason why Manitobans play hockey is because it is fun! From Timbits U7 hockey to our Rec League participants, fun and enjoyment of the sport is the driving force. Many of our grassroots programs focus on the FUNdamentals of hockey development, wherein the basic skills and rules of the game are taught in a low-stress and fun environment. From our Esso Fun Days program for women and girls, to U7 Faceoff Festivals, Provincials, and our Hockey Manitoba Cup, having fun takes centre stage. Whether athletes play competitively or recreationally, it is important to remember why we play, and that is to have fun and to enjoy playing an exciting sport we love!

2. Aside from being an enjoyable sport for all to enjoy, hockey is a great energy outlet that helps develop good physical fitness. Simply put, hockey is a tremendous cardiovascular activity. Our respondents cited exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as the next most important reason to play. In hockey, athletes master physical literacy at a young age and progress through several development stages that focus on fitness, conditioning, and endurance building. Hockey can be a life-long physical activity that promotes steady exercise and can be played by anyone!

3. In addition to hockey’s obvious physical benefits, there are many positive psychological and mental benefits such as improved decision making, concentration and the personal confidence that comes from accomplishing team goals. Hockey requires constant physical and verbal communication and teamwork on the ice which are skills that can be transferred to everyday life.

4. The hockey environment is a space where lasting memories and lifelong friends are made (for both players AND parents!). Our members note hockey’s social component and the chance to be on a team as the third and fourth most important factors for playing. Positive connections are made between young and old athletes alike, and there is a healthy dynamic between having fun and being with your friends on the ice. For youngsters, hockey provides a safe space for athletes to develop social skills and interact with each other outside of the classroom setting. For adults, whether as a spectator or recreational player, the social and team aspect of the sport takes on a new importance and can be a main factor for retaining interest in the sport.

5. Another reason for hockey participation is the competitive nature of the game. Respondents to our survey showed a desire to challenge themselves in a new sport and to be in competitive situations. Whether it is competing against others or challenging yourself to be the best you can be, competition is an important factor for hockey participation. Developing resiliency and learning how to compete in a sportsmanlike way is important to our athletes. Healthy competition inspires people to do their best!

6. The hockey environment aids in personal growth through the development of life skills, both on and off the ice. Parents are proud to see their children grow as human beings. Young athletes share stories of how hockey helped them blossom as a person and build confidence, learn the values of sportsmanship, and become leaders in their communities. Young hockey players are put in safe, inclusive spaces where they become active listeners, critical thinkers, and outstanding members of the community

7. Respondents of our survey expressed that learning new on-ice hockey skills were a major factor for participating in hockey and remaining in the game. Participants not only learn skating and puck-handling skills, but they acquire skills that can be transferred to other sports like soccer, baseball and martial arts. By progressing through the different development stages in hockey and acquiring advanced skills, players achieve personal goals and express a desire to remain in hockey long-term.

8. Hockey is a community. A prevalent theme in our research showed that many Manitobans choose hockey because of its connections to their communities and how it helps shape identities. People feel connected to the game of hockey in special ways, and for some a deep sense of place is felt in hockey rinks and their environments. This emotional attachment to the game is deeply personal, and for some the pure and simple love of the game and what it means to them it is the main reason for playing.

9. For some it is the sense of community that brought them to the game, for others it is the sense of tradition that surrounds the game. Hockey is often thought of as “Canada’s game”, with stories of the sport deeply rooted in Canadian mythology. For others, it is simple as wanting to play the same sport as one’s mother, father, or sibling. Community and family are pillars of the game, and for many it is the driving force behind their participation.

10. Participating in hockey often leads to other opportunities. Whether it is travelling across our great province with a team and visiting different communities or earning a Hockey Manitoba scholarship to help with post-secondary education, the opportunities in hockey are endless.

It is important to consider why people participate in hockey as it will help determine pathways to change and allow for the voices of our membership to be heard. Greater awareness of our members’ needs allows opportunities for Hockey Manitoba to engage meaningfully with its many players, coaches, officials, parents, and volunteers. Growing the game requires a commitment to serving not only incoming participants to hockey, but those who already play.

In our pursuit to keep hockey a sustainable recreation option for Manitobans, we need to continue to make spaces around the sport more fun, safe, and inclusive. As the survey dictates, there are many reasons why Manitobans choose hockey – it is enjoyable, a great form of exercise, and is a space where people from all walks of life can socialize and grow as human beings.

Hockey Manitoba extends a thank you to everyone who participated in our End of Season Survey, and we hope to see you on the ice!

If you are interested in registering for hockey, please contact your local Minor Hockey Association.

Below is a breakdown of the responses (grouped into themes) to the question “What are the three main reasons why you play hockey?” taken from the 2019-2020 Hockey Manitoba End of Season Survey.

Theme Number of Responses
Fun and enjoyment of sport 978
Fitness, health, and exercise 660
Social aspect and camaraderie 618
Being on a team 383
Competitive environment 198
Improve life skills 165
Learning the sport and improvement of sport skills 149
Sense of place and community 39
Sense of tradition 32
Travel and career opportunities 31

*There were a total of 1,143 responses for Hockey Manitoba’s 2019-2020 End of Season Survey

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