March Madness: persistent lack of diversity

March Madness dispatch

IMG_3619 (2)The NCHC Frozen Faceoff weekend in Minneapolis is more than four teams playing for the league title and NCAA tournament bid. It’s also their Fan Fest and other “fan-friendly” goings-on at the Timberwolves-Lynx arena and surrounding places nearby.

Yet trying to finding Black fans is a daunting task, something we asked NCHC Commissioner Doug Fenton earlier in the week.

“Whether it’s Fan Fest [or] post-game parties, it’s the best in college hockey,” bragged Fenton. However, he was hard pressed to adequately explain why a clear lack of diversity existed throughout the three-day event.

“I think regardless of who you are, you want to be at a tournament like this because you will get an event experience,” said the NCHC top guy.

A similar noticeable lack of diversity also occurred in St. Paul, where the Big Ten held its post season hockey tournament this weekend.  But according to some longtime college hockey folk, drawing people period  after three years, remains a top concern among officials.

Friday’s NCHC semifinals reported over 10,000 in attendance, while the Big Ten reported only 5,423 for the host Minnesota-Ohio State semifinals on the same evening. Furthermore, an average of just over 7,300 at the first two Big Ten tournaments in St. Paul and Detroit respectively has been recorded.

“We really [must] be intentional in getting a sound league…whether that [is] the [post season] tournament or the regular season,” noted UM Interim AD Beth Goetz before Saturday’s Minnesota-Michigan championship game.

Finally, our third hockey binge weekend this month is done.

Next week — the NCAA West Regional in St. Paul March 26-27.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.