Scarce advertising damages league

It’s a new round of sports registration and the Scarborough Hockey Association (SHA) is in trouble.

This isn’t new.

Earlier this year, The Toronto Observer reported the SHA’s challenges in increasing enrolment and its struggle to stay separate from the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

This season, the SHA had to scrap a new development league, an inexpensive bridge between house league and competitive hockey, due to low enrolment. The league would have operated solely in Scarborough. But now players who want to play at this level will have to go through other leagues.

It’s a story that’s becoming common in Scarborough: hockey teams are losing enrolment and Scarborough’s immigrant population is to blame.

But is that really the truth?

Two years ago, Hockey Night In Canada began broadcasting it’s games in Punjabi and Mandarin, which is a great way to attract more viewers.

The SHA should have taken a page out of the CBC’s handbook and stopped to look at its neighbours.

The SHA spent $5,000 promoting and advertising its newest program to its members and had two public information sessions. But how many advertisements went out to new people? How many were placed in mosques, temples AND cultural centres? How many potential Sidney Crosbys live in Scarborough who don’t speak English as a first language? We may never find out because they weren’t contacted.

It’s a shame because the developmental league would have given youth a chance to play hockey at a low cost to hone their skills. But by bypassing new recruits the league is ultimately setting itself up for failure.

Who knows how many kids would have continued playing in the SHA once they had a taste of the developmental league and started to love the sport?

We may never know, and that’s the real problem.