The US hockey team’s dramatic 3-2 win in Sochi further supports the amazing advances in skill and talent of youth hockey programs across the United States which has contributed to some impressive growth numbers.
The success of those programs has over time escalated the US into a formidable hockey power which cannot be overlooked on the world stage any longer.
While “Miracle on the Ice” was a complete shock to the world, the latest US victory came as a welcome pride point, but not a complete surprise.
Former Honeybaked youth hockey defenseman Cam Fowler has contributed solid performances throughout the series so far contributing both offensively and defensively.
Fowler was a talented US youth hockey player, but probably never envisioned that he would be on the world stage with the rest of the team USA players in Sochi.
The toughness, skill and grit of the entire USA team has further magnified the hype for the gold medal.
With more families all over America becoming involved in youth hockey the prospects of further gains are not at all unthinkable.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about the decline in youth sports participation. It cited traditional youth sports participation showing reduced numbers.
The article said ”Combined participation in the four most-popular U.S. team sports—basketball, soccer, baseball and football—fell among boys and girls aged 6 through 17 by roughly 4% from 2008 to 2012, according to an examination of data from youth leagues, school-sports groups and industry associations.
During those five years, the population of 6-to-17-year-olds in the U.S. fell 0.6%, according to the U.S. Census.”
The decrease in population is not really surprising given the slow economy which traditionall decreases the birth rate.
What is surprising is the adjusted decrease in youth sports in general.
Many believe the emergence of video games is one of the causes.
Organized sports have long been regarded as a valuable defense against increasing rates of disease-inducing inactivity among America's youth.
Declines in youth sports participation could bear long-lasting consequences, says William W. Dexter, a Maine physician who is president of the American College of Sports Medicine. "It is much more likely," he says, "that someone who is active in their childhood is going to remain active into their adulthood."
The article also cited the business implications, too. U.S. baseball-bat sales in 2012 fell 18% from 2008 sales in dollar terms, while football sales dropped about 5% and team-uniform sales for basketball and soccer were flat, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, a trade group.
40% of Americans say they would encourage their children to play a different sport than football due to concerns about concussions, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.
Surprisingly even President Obama weighed in on the subject saying “If I had a son," President Barack Obama told a Magazine in one of multiple interviews he has given on the subject, "I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football."
From 2011 to 2012, total sporting-goods dollar sales rose 2.1%, half the projected increase, the SFIA says. While the association doesn't poll members about the reasons for the soft sales, "there is certainly the potential for those declines to be connected" with decreases the SFIA has noted in youth-sport participation, says VJ Mayor, the association's research director.”
Basketball participation fell 6.3% in the 6-to-14 group during that period, according to the survey of nearly 70,000 households and individuals.
Even soccer, which has seen strong gains in recent decades, shows signs its numbers are stagnating. The high-school federation reports that soccer participation was up 7.4% in the 2012-13 seasons from 2008-09. But the United States Soccer Federation, which governs U.S. youth soccer leagues other than school-based leagues, says its youth soccer participation was flat between 2008 and 2012.
The survey did show ice-hockey participation growing 64% from 2008 through 2012 among the 6-to-18 age group.
Although downplayed in the Wallstreet Journal article youth hockey is buoyed by the success of American youth hockey teams and improved Junior and Senior Olympic squads.
The best is yet to come.