Sur­vey delves into lo­cal hockey is­sues

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TERI PECOSKIE tpecoskie@thes­ 905-526-3368 | @Te­ri­atTheSpec

Is the cost of play­ing hockey in Hamil­ton too high?

That’s just one of the ques­tions the city is seek­ing to an­swer in a new on­line sur­vey.

Launched Fri­day, the sur­vey was cre­ated at the re­quest of a group of lo­cal hockey as­so­ci­a­tions. It’s aimed at those al­ready in­volved in the sport — play­ers, par­ents, coaches and so forth — and is avail­able un­til the end of the month.

The group, which started small and has since grown to i nclude more than a dozen as­so­ci­a­tions, first came to­gether in Novem­ber to talk about the rules that re­strict play­ers from play­ing out­side their catch­ment ar­eas.

The idea for a sur­vey was hatched in those dis­cus­sions, which also touched on the steep cost of the game and other bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pa­tion brought to light in Pay to Play — a three-part Spec­ta­tor se­ries pub­lished in late Oc­to­ber that un­cov­ered links be­tween so­cioe­co­nomic fac­tors and hockey suc­cess.

Steve Sevor, the city’s man­ager of sport and de­vel­op­ment, said the as­so­ci­a­tions wanted to bet­ter un­der­stand those is­sues as well as how in­di­vid­ual clubs and their mem­bers feel about them. He also said he views this as a “first step” — the city is still try­ing to fig­ure out how to ex­pand the dis­cus­sion to in­clude the gen­eral pub­lic.

The sur­vey, which takes about five to 10 min­utes to com­plete, seeks in­put on ev­ery­thing from fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­grams to the struc­ture of hockey in Hamil­ton. It also asks re­spon­dents what they would like to see change.

Ac­cord­ing to Sevor, around 1,500 peo­ple have filled it out so f ar — nearly 20 per cent of the city’s over­all reg­is­tra­tion. Around 8,000 peo­ple signed up for hockey in Hamil­ton this year.

Once the in­for­ma­tion is gath­ered, the city will an­a­lyze it to look for trends or com­mon mes­sag­ing be­fore shar­ing it with the as­so­ci­a­tions. “It’s hard to say how we’ll progress, but I think, first and fore­most, it’s great to have a sur­vey of this na­ture,” Sevor added. “We al­ways go out to the as­so­ci­a­tions, but go­ing out to the mem­ber­ship is very valu­able.”

Hamil­ton Huskies gen­eral man­ager Mike Spadafora agreed.

“We’ve never asked the par­ents,” he said. “If we all agree that hockey is ex­pen­sive, should we not be look­ing to give them every op­por­tu­nity to find the league that best suits their fam­ily’s needs?”

Visit sur­vey­mon­­ton­hock­ey­survey to com­plete the sur­vey be­fore March 1.

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