OCAA hockey too costly to bring back

by | Oct 21, 2019 | Feature, Sports, Varsity

Remi Drouin, Sports Reporter

Millions of Canadians relish the return of the hockey season every October.

While for some kids this means picking up the newest gear no matter the cost, for others, it simply means to look on from the sidelines because the game is simply too expensive to play.

This prohibitive cost doesn’t only affect young people around Canada, it affects students athletes at Humber.

Humber College does not have varsity hockey teams because there isn’t a league to support them.

Two of the most challenging obstacles in supporting a varsity team is the unmanageable stick budget and increasing cost for arena ice time.

“The cost of hockey escalated,” Ray Chateau, director of Athletics said.“For those of us without arenas on campus, ice time became very expensive.”

It costs roughly $300 for one hour of ice time in the GTA and mid-level priced hockey sticks range between $100 and $200 each.

“A college’s stick budget alone is about $60,000 to $70,000 a year,” Chateau said.

Humber hockey built a dynasty in the 1980s, but it absorbed about
$90,000 of the then $140,000 athletics budget.

The college however kept the team going until 2004, a year the team won gold.

The rising costs for varsity hockey also saw the college league drop to three teams from six teams in the early 2000s.

At that point, there were simply not enough colleges who could support a varsity team and the league disbanded.

Considering hockey is one of Canada’s most beloved sports, it’s a sad and eye-opening reality to live in.

Hockey, compared to other popular sports at Humber like soccer and rugby, has costs that are much more prohibitive for the school.

Basketball, another mainstay at Humber, is much easier on the budget, with the only necessities being a ball and a hoop.

It’s no surprise to see how much the sport is thriving in Canada, especially with the Toronto Raptors NBA Championship this past spring.

It makes sense why basketball is a varsity sport at Humber, rather than just the extramural or intermural teams like hockey.

“With extramural, it’s still really good hockey, but it doesn’t haveall the perks of varsity,” said Brian Lepp, coordinator for Sports Information and Marketing.

“Players have to bring their own equipment. They have to pay to play and they have to practice late at night when ice time is cheaper.”

Chateau said the system they have in place at the moment is “pretty robust,” but he hopes it can evolve to a level where teams are playing for a meaningful championship.

“Where we’re at right now as an association is trying to find a middle ground between varsity and extramural,” Chateau said.

If the game of hockey wants to grow and continue to thrive, something needs to be done or else, we’ll have more rinks falling to the wayside, more leagues having to fold, and Canada’s pastime fading into the background.