Originally Posted by phil235
I'm not sure this assessment is accurate. While first generations of new Canadians tend to ignore hockey, the next generations are much more likely to be involved. This has been the pattern for decades, and immigration is probably less significant now than it was 50 years ago. To take your Toronto example, look at the Italians who clearly prefer soccer as a nationality. The first generations to arrive may have had no interest in hockey, but their kids and grandkids are playing in huge numbers. Look at the number of players of Italian descent that are in the NHL now. I can see the same pattern occuring with other groups. You already notice growing numbers of Middle Eastern and Asian names popping up on junior hockey rosters.
I can't speak as knowledgably about football, but I do know a whole lot of second generation Canadians who love watching the sport. I would suggest that your prediction of the demise of North American sports is slightly exaggerated. Soccer is certainly dominant on a worldwide basis, but there is lots of room for other sports to thrive.
I hope you're correct, but that hasn't been my experience here in Toronto. Not only are first generation Canadians not interested in hockey, football, basketball, and baseball, but their kids tend to go into soccer or cricket. Hockey has been the least effected, but the warning signs are everywhere.
The last time the Leafs made it to the playoffs, the indifference on the streets of downtown Toronto was palpable. They'd be the usual Leafs fans driving up the street celebrating a win, but they'd be totally outnumbered by a completely baffled mass of humanity on the sidewalks. I'd even hear some of them ridicule hockey as a sport of yesterday, that no one cares about. It was all about soccer and cricket for them.
A bit of an exaggeration on their part, but the hostility was telling. I think Toronto has reached a tipping point. Football is our canary in the coal mine. Football used to be a big deal in Toronto, but todays Torontonians are completely ignorant of the sport, and Canada's massive contribution to it. It started with the first generation, spread to the second, and the NFL marketing machine only worked to damage football's position in the greater culture even more.
When you've got a 50% foreign born population, you've got half the city right off the bat who's cultural interests lie elsewhere. Those people who think it can't possibly happen to hockey in Toronto should pay a little closer attention to the sea change that's occurring in this city. It happened to football. There are lots of indications all around that other Canadian cultural interests will suffer the same indignity.
Hockey people who don't care about the demise of the Argonauts are fooling themselves if they think they're immune from the same offshore cultural forces at play. Hockey is coming from a position of great strength, so it will just take longer for the decline to become problematic. In Toronto, you can already tell its happening. People just aren't paying attention.