Posted by: Tony Carson | 9 October, 2007

Nike: Hockey takes another hit

First, US sports broadcaster ESPN dumped hockey for what? maybe beach volleyball or monster truck rodeos.

Now Nike has dumped the game.

“The reality is hockey’s a declining market in the U.S.,” says Jim Rennie who published Jim Rennie’s Sports Letter, a widely read sporting goods newsletter, from 1977 to 2002.

Indeed, USA Hockey figures show that in 2005-06, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 442,077 registered players in the U.S., down from 445,245 in 2004-05 – the second-straight year of decline.

By contrast, Hockey Canada had 545,363 registered players in 2006-07, down slightly from the previous year’s 552,040.

One unlikely factor in hockey’s drop-off in the U.S. may be aging baby boomers, Rennie said.

“Old-timers hockey is key to the business. If you’re a dentist playing old-timers, you’re going to spend money on good equipment.”

Trouble is, many old-timer league players quit the sport for good when they reach their early 60s, Rennie said.

Firenzo Arcadi, who owns Toronto sporting goods store Toronto Hockey Repair Ltd., has another theory about why the hockey business has swooned.

“It’s the $900 skate,” Arcadi said, referring to NikeBauer’s latest offering, a sleek silver, black and blue skate called the Supreme one90 that retails at some stores for $899.

“These companies like Nike are pricing themselves right out of the market,” said Arcadi, whose store sells about $2.5 million worth of equipment each year, down from $3 million just four years ago.

“It’s at a point where families are having to decide whether they want to pay a $1,100 mortgage or buy skates,” he said.

The story is here: Nike abandons hockey

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