This is a post I never wanted to write because I hoped the penny would have dropped by now, but it still hasn’t.
I’m a writer and journalist who got involved with this sport ten years ago and have watched it grow in this country to become the top watched indoor sport in the UK.
I’ve seen social media accounts mushroom and grow as popularity takes hold and more and more people have attended games, prior to the Covid outbreak of course.
I’ve even introduced friends to ice hockey and can’t wait to get back and see another game. I’ve sent countless emails and received many opportunities from the media to speak on the radio and write articles for newspapers.
I’m grateful for every one of these opportunities and I’m not using this post to any way criticise any one or any organisation, but my question to the UK sports media is a simple one.
What is it going to take for ice hockey to gain any kind of recognition in this country?
We’re not expecting ice hockey to take over back pages or bump the latest multi-million pound signing from one of the top clubs from the top story on Sky Sports News.
We’re not expecting prime time television on a Saturday night on one of the main channels.
But, after a World Championship where Great Britain have held their own against the big guns, improved considerably since playing in the same tournament two years ago and will be there again this year, surely it’s more than a customary five paragraphs on the BBC Sport website?
The stories were there. How GB went from a standing start to pick up the double the points they got in Slovakia two years ago. Liam Kirk and his exploits, the fact head coach Pete Russell hasn’t been there to oversee in person what has been a great tournament, although he has been all over it from home. The fact not one, but two players reached 100 caps within days.
You could have watched Sky Sports News wall to wall for the entire tournament and there wouldn’t have been one mention of what the guys have done or the way Kirk has impressed this year.
Again, appreciative of the fact the football season is coming to an end and the European Championships are started soon, a major golf championship, one or two high profile boxing bouts, the efforts of the GB players has gone shamefully ignored.
Why is that? Other than the Daily Mail, who have covered the tournament, unless you follow ice hockey, you would never have known the Worlds were on.
You have to give applause and credit to Aaron Murphy, Paul Adey and the team at FreeSports for their tireless work in letting us be able to watch it. At least in FreeSports and Premier Sports, someone gives a damn.
GB Men’s head coach Pete Russell once slammed the BBC for failing to even mention his team when they won promotion in 2018 during their Sports Personality of the Year show when rounding up the other ‘minority’ sports.
Even the return of the Elite League, in the form of the Elite Series in April caused barely a ripple. Probably one of the last sports to emerge post Covid and not even so much as a glance that way.
We’re all realistic enough to know seeing ice hockey on prime time Saturday afternoon during the halcyon days of Grandstand is long gone, but would it really be a stretch to show the sport some degree of recognition?
There are so many stories in this great sport that deserve a platform to be heard, a stage for them to be told, but some reason the door remains closed.
As a fan, as well as a working writer, it’s frustrating that this is still an issue. After all, it’s not too difficult to take a look and see what’s going on to understand why people have missed being able to go to the games.
GB won’t win the World Championships, barring a Leicester City style campaign, but the sport hasn’t been on this level for some time. Despite the pandemic, there are many positives as the cutting of budgets could lead to more opportunities for British players coming through.
Progress well enough and they too could be gracing that illustrious world stage. Those stories are yet to be told.
We’re doing our bit. It’s time for you to help us. You know where to find us.