In December, in an event possibly mentioned here at the Victoria Times—or possibly ignored, St. Paul, Minnesota was named by Sports Illustrated as Hockeytown taking the title away from Detroit.
The Wild acknowledged the honor, but have stuck to their slogan, “State of Hockey”. It seems the legislature is in on the act. They had added to an education bill to make hockey the official state sport. It was removed because there are some parts of the state where hockey isn’t popular. Well, the Walleye is our state fish, and I don’t like fish, therefore, the walleye should be taken away. There are many people in the state who are lactose intolerant, and milk is still the official state drink (link). I’m not here to argue that legislature should get the bill back on the table.
I grew up in Minnesota, and had pretty much no exposure to hockey as a kid. I followed baseball exclusively, as can no doubt be noted in my posts. But I can’t deny the sheer number of children who are on the rinks playing hockey. I like to ice skate, which I’ve done since I was a wee child. No hockey was played on the outdoor rink down the block, so I was never tempted to try it. However, now whenever I got to local parks, it amazes me the number of kids with sticks and pucks who are out there. It doesn’t matter if there are only two kids, they’ll find a way to play a game. If there are 20 people of all ages, games still go on (although a distinct lack of goalies; the costs of equipment is prohibitive—once I saw the goals turned over, making a smaller target, and other times).
Maybe Minnesota is the State of Hockey. Why not? We can play it cheaper than some states (find a frozen pond, and your only expense is a snow shovel, skates, a punk, and a stick). In winter, outdoor choices are limited, and skating gives kids something to do that’s simply fun—but challenging. The number of schools—high school and college—with strong hockey programs is likely unmatched (Massachusetts and Michigan are up there). It’s not a pastime to hockey families, it’s a part of their lives.