IHUK Miss Point By Charging for GB U20 Games
Team Great Britain Under 20’s start their IIHF World Championships Division 1B campaign in Dumfries tonight.
Ticket prices are not unreasonable, with a Full Championship pass available for £40 (less than £3 per game) while day time games cost £4 and evening (i.e. GB) games £8.
Other countries have allowed free entry to games when they have hosted similar tournaments (Spain and Poland were two examples cited on Twitter), but I can forgive IHUK for looking to recoup some of their outlay at the door.
What I cannot understand is how they can justify £6 PER GAME for the webcasts.
With a British team playing on home ice, there has never been a better time to ‘sell’ the national program to the thousands of hockey fans who remain largely indifferent to our international exploits.
Being a mid week tournament, the opportunity for most to travel to Dumfries was always likely to be slim (even a more central venue would have been a push) – but a free stream of the games would have allowed many British hockey fans to get involved in an international tournament for the first time; as well as getting British hockey a little more involved with a thriving international hockey scene.
You have a ready made entry point to the international game for the masses who rarely give Team GB a second thought. The junior tournaments are there to showcase each nations best young talent; and we’re showcasing ours on our own doorstep.
Unfortunately, rather than take advantage of this opportunity to further promote the game, the national program and the next generation of British players, it’s simply become another exercise in flogging the fan bases wallets.
IHUK did a great job promoting the Senior mens attempts at qualifying for Sochi 2014 (even if it ended rather badly for them). For the first time in a long time it felt like there was genuine interest in the national setup – a feeling seldom experienced. Sadly the national program rarely resonates with your average fan on the street; so why not try and build on the foundations laid down last spring?
I’ve long held the belief a strong national program is vital to the success of hockey in the UK. A strong national setup gives you something to sell to national media outlets (thus increasing exposure) and creates something the British game is chronically short of – poster boys.
As odd as that sounds, there is no ‘figure head’ for the British game. Individual clubs have popular players, but the sport as a whole is almost invisible in a national sense. No star player to ‘brag about’, few prospects people are truly excited about.
What better way to create a ‘national hero’ than through national team success? Ok, perhaps I am going a little over the top there – it’s an U20 tournament, not the Olympic final. But what do we do when the chance comes along to promote the sport and showcase our future stars? Charge for it.
Not only does it close the door on opportunities to cheer on Team GB from home, see tomorrow’s stars and give the media a free look at the sport; but it actually deflates interest among the existing fan base.
Suddenly a home tournament, that people could so easily get behind, becomes just another tournament. One that ‘no one’ cares about.
I am sure the costs of putting on a decent webcast (which it would need to be to avoid looking like a bunch of amateurs with a handycam) will be used as an excuse. But given the thousands of pounds that flow in and out of the game each season, a little extra effort for a tiny fraction of the pot could have paid dividends for IHUK, the national program and the sport in Great Britain.
Instead, chasing a few extra bucks wins the day. Again.