EAST LANSING - In the United States, the big cash cows as far as sports go are Basketball and Football. They rule the day and the airwaves as baseball and hockey have fallen into more of a niche realm than they ever have been before.
With hockey, it is important to note that over the past ten years there's been a lockout, a lost season, and a change in broadcasting rights which lead to NHL games being blacked out in certain areas and cable packages. This moved the public eye away from hockey even further. However with the expansion of the league, there have been bumps to membership in Pennsylvania, Chicago, California, and Texas.
With the ever rising costs of equipment and ice time all of the the dominos are falling to place for hockey to phased out in the United States. In spite of these factors, overall participation in the United States has grown over the past 10 years by 16.6%.
The state of Michigan, who was formerly the #1 state in terms of members, has fallen off while seeing many youth USA hockey leaguers switch to the AAU model. The Mitten State is now ranked #2 in the nation with 50,585 registered players.
Despite all of the NHL's shortcomings there are still very passionate fans and players who keep this sport alive on every level. Regardless of the cost there are certain traditions and facets to the game that still draw new players every year. Some players, come from hockey families.
Regardless of how time consuming or costly the sport may be to play, people will find a way to enjoy this wonderful game.