In 2015, the Tribune got even more specific, noting that blacks have the highest growth rate amongst the NHL's fan demographics.
Historically, hockey has been a non-diverse sport, said William Douglas, who operates the blog Color of Hockey, which highlights minority hockey players. He played on youth hockey teams in the 1970s in Philadelphia, where he was subject to racial taunts.To be fair, the highest rate of growth is easy when your numbers are low to begin with. English or Mandarin weren't the world's fastest growing languages in 2015, "Emoji" was. Likewise, the "fastest growing ethnic group in North Dakota" is asian.
"There's a perception in the African-American community that we shouldn't like hockey or sports like NASCAR" Douglas said. "There aren't that many rinks in urban areas and the cost of equipment is outrageous."
"Not seeing players of color on the ice on a regular basis or not knowing there are players of color that reinforces the stereotype. Then it became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts."
But statistics and black hockey fans in Chicago say that's changing. African-American fans have the highest growth rate among NHL fans at 1.4 times the overall rate, according to Scarborough, a national media research company. In Chicago, the number of African-Americans who identify themselves as very or somewhat interested in the Hawks increased from 12.6 percent in 2011 to 21.9 percent in 2014. The number of black fans who watched a Hawks game on TV or listened on the radio grew from 28.1 percent in 2011 to 37.9 percent last year.They made up 9.7 percent of Hawks fans in 2014, up from 7.1 percent in 2011, which is the only increase among racial groups charted by Scarborough.
The numbers are far less than the 49.9 percent of African-Americans who identify as NBA fans or even the 40.9 percent of white fans who identify as hockey fans, but it doesn't diminish the significance of the growth.
Still, you can't ignore that the number of black NHL fans are increasing. The proof is in the new ruling that all NHL arenas will require metal detectors for the upcoming season. Yes, even areans far from violence-prone new black fans like Vancouver or Ottawa.
So the news that Rexall Place has installed the detectors that will only be required at NHL games just seems crazy. We've already established that all black people in Edmonton know each other, and no more than 3 or 4 of them ever go to games anyways. We don't have to worry about violent thugs from a backwards culture causing trouble at Oilers games, do we?