When most people see floorball they think ice hockey, or some version of that. Given the current growth of the sport in the US, ice hockey plays and more specifically the NHL has the possibility to help explode floorball into the main stream.
Hockey players are going to be drawn to the sport because it’s similar enough to what they already know. However, if it gains mass appeal beyond hockey it will spread like fire. While the argument can be made on which sport is the “fastest growing sport in America” floorball certainly has the potential to take that role.
Floorball and the NHL has already gained support with a handful of teams jumping into floorball. The Dallas Stars were the first to get into Floorball, followed by the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils. These efforts are part of a broader community outreach by NHL teams and local elementary schools. The programs will vary from team to team, but the overall effort is building community and camaraderie with the players and residents. Floorball is a natural fit for these programs.
With the NHL being a major sports league and their desire to attract more and more views and fans, Floorball can be a catalyst to reaching new fans. While there are currently small groups and organizations playing Floorball that with a boost in education about the sport from the NHL we’ll likely see more organizations pop up to meet the new demand. Because Floorball has more capability to attract a broader audience it’s equally likely that savvy investors will see the potential for the sport, and minor and/or professional leagues might begin to take shape over time. As the NHL looks to expand it’s audience overseas, mainly in China, it would be beneficial for them to use Floorball as a dry land tool to attract their audience. Floorball is growing in popularity throughout Asia, and the NHL should at least consider using this as a way to gain more attention, especially from younger players. The sport of Floorball will likely follow a similar growth pattern as sports such as lacrosse and soccer, which grew out of grassroots programs to become full-fledged professional sports.
If you are a student, or a parent that has kids and lives near an NHL team it’s likely you’ve seen this program implemented already. However, be on the lookout as floorball is coming to your schools at some point or in some way. Use the excitement to get involved and get playing. See you on the court!