Hockey has been Canada’s most beloved sport for over a century. In U Sports, ice hockey is the major trend. However, due to the changing demographics of the country, we’re seeing a change in the sport trends among the country’s youth.
The main national sport still holds its value. For better or for worse, ice hockey is here to stay. However, young Canadians have opportunities to play other sports as well. We’re happy to see more funding going into basketball, soccer, and other sports that attract players of different ages.
Let’s look at the most important sport trends among Canada’s youth.
5 Trends in Canadian Sports for Youth
- Canada Is Investing More in the Olympic Games
Due to the situation with COVID-19, we’re not sure whether the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed. The one thing we know for sure is that Canadian athletes will not compete if the games are not postponed. The risk is too big.
That being said, Canada has invested more than ever in young people training for the Olympics this time. Ever since the 2010 Games in Vancouver, when the competitors won 14 gold medals, we’ve become one of the most successful nations to participate in the Games.
RBC Training Ground is a special program that identifies and funds young athletes, who have beginner Olympic potential. Amateur athletes have a chance to get noticed and receive financial and other support, so they can reach the Games.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevented this year’s plans from getting realized. RBC Training Ground has suspended the remaining qualifying events. However, we cannot neglect the fact that our country has been investing in the youth. Currently, we’re going through a difficult situation with effects on a global level. When we recover from it, this program will be as strong as ever.
- Canadian Basketball Is Rising
It’s a great time to be interested in basketball. This is not the beginning of basketball in Canada. It’s been present for decades. However, we still haven’t done anything impressive on the international stage. Kelly Olynyk, Shai-Gigeous Alexander, Brandon Clarke and other Canadian players got noticed when they played for U.S. college team. That’s slowly starting to change.
During the 2019-2020 season of U Sports, 48 out of 56 universities that participate in the league have basketball teams for both men and women.
Canada’s official women’s basketball team is currently ranked fourth on a global level. If the Olympics weren’t cancelled, our team would’ve been one of the greatest contenders for a medal.
We’re looking at a massive trend, which is slowly leading to a cultural shift in the country. Our attention is slowly shifting from the ice to the hardwood. Basketball has great potential to overtake hockey as the most popular sport in the country.
- Football Is Evolving, Too
Have you ever wondered why Canadians loved American football so much? Think about it: it’s a brutal game that puts its players in vulnerable positions. It’s a tough game for those who aren’t afraid to get a few bruises here and there. Does it remind you of something? It’s almost as brutal as hockey, so it’s no wonder why Canadians enjoy it so much.
U.S. teams still hold priority over this sport. Players get massive scholarships to play for their college teams. They are so consumed by the game that they tend to neglect the remaining aspects of their education. But hey; since EduBirdie can write an essay online, there’s no reason for a student to skip practice and commit to homework. Fortunately, young Canadians haven’t gone that far. They love football, but they tend to be more committed to their studies when compared to their U.S. counterparts.
Only 27 member schools sent their teams to compete during the 2019 U Sports football season. But it’s easy to see a rising trend when the audience is so excited supporting the teams.
- We’re Getting More Interested in Soccer
When compared to hockey, soccer has a major advantage: it’s not as expensive. There’s another important factor that increases the popularity of this sport: immigrant Canadians from Europe, South America, and Africa love it!
In terms of youth participation, soccer is among the top sports in Canada. Toronto FC is a leader in this progress. Although the women’s program is not supported that well by the government, the Canadian women’s youth team finished fourth at Uruguay 2018; a FIFA youth competition.
There’s nothing strange with soccer getting more popular in Canada. After all, it’s the most beloved sport on the planet.
- Tennis Is Getting More Popular, Too
Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard changed the way Canadians see tennis. It’s no longer a sport for the privileged. It became interesting to everyone. Young Canadians were holding their breath throughout 2019, cheering for their new favorite tennis players.
Genie Bouchard turned pro before she was 20 years old. She was lucky to have supportive parents. Her entire family moved to Florida when she was 12. Why did they do this? Genie’s parents wanted her to pursue her passion with good coaches, and the U.S. offered far better training conditions than Canada at that time. But when she was 15, Genie came back to Montreal to continue her training.
She set a great example for young Canadians: they can play tennis, too! But she also taught Canada a lesson: the country must invest in this sport.
Canada becoming a tennis superpower – that was something we couldn’t imagine a few years ago. Now, the country has several rising young stars, who successfully compete in international tournaments.
It’s Great to Witness Some Versatility in Canadian Youth Sports
Truth be told, we’ve never been obsessed with a single sport. However, it’s great to see schools and organizations investing more in sports other than hockey. Ice hockey still holds the pedestal, since it’s where we’re most successful as a nation.
Basketball, soccer, football, and tennis are attracting the attention of Canadian youth more than ever. It’s a shame that we won’t be participating in the next Olympic Games, unless they get postponed. But that doesn’t stop young people from training and making progress in the sports they love.
BIO: Elizabeth Skinner is a lover of hockey, fencing, and basketball. She’s been exploring Canadian sports in the recent years, and she realized that young people aren’t getting as many opportunities as they should. Through her blog posts, Elizabeth is motivating teenagers to train harder and pursue their dreams.