Hockey fans need to step up to make sport popularAccording to the latest global rankings, Korean ice hockey and basketball teams are both in the middle of the pack: 23rd and 28th, respectively.
But when it comes to domestic popularity, things aren’t so even.
This year, the average attendance at Korean Basketball League games was 3,865. Even though this is down 11.6 percent from last year, the number is still the envy of the Korean ice hockey community.
The average attendance of Asia League Ice Hockey games here was about 600.
The Korean ice hockey community needs to increase exposure of the sport and bring new fans to the rink. Currently, however, there is an insufficient online infrastructure to do either.
Ice hockey is a sport that is most entertaining live. But there is not enough information online to help fans learn about the sport or actually get to games.
Additional online channels for information and news are urgently needed to support Korean hockey fans. Currently, when people search “Asia League” on any web portal, it’s not easy to find information other than what’s on its official website.
In fact, although the Tohoku Free Blades won the championship series that ended on March 24, it’s difficult to find even that.
But even the league’s official website is not conducive to gaining Korean fans, because it’s only offered in English or Japanese. The website itself offers game results and basic information about team and players, but lacks additional and compelling content to attract new fans.
Of course, each team individually communicates with fans through social network services and provides live broadcasting services and highlight videos, but those services are mainly for fans who are already hooked on the sport.
Something needs to be done to bring new fans to the sport.
In order to promote ice hockey to public, we need to emphasize the sport’s “Double E,” meaning its balance of entertainment and elite, highly strategic play.
Another way could be shifting league or tournament schedules to the summer, so that people can enjoy ice hockey - and the rink’s frosty climate - when the weather is hot.
It’s about time for the ice hockey community to step up and make changes on their own. If they don’t, it may soon be too late for the Korean league.
BY KIM HONG-IL [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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