Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Nike Gets the Hell Out of Hockey

by Jes

Ding dong, the bitch is dead!

As reported on by Eric over at The FanHouse a couple weeks back, and as touched on by Sportsnet today, Nike is getting out of the hockey business.


Swoosh. In onomatopoeic terms, that is the sound of sports biggest brand leaving hockey after 13 years of trying to be the choice for amateur and professional players.

In 1994, Nike bought Montreal's Canstar Sports, maker of the popular Bauer skates and other equipment, hockey was surging.

"I remember (Nike CEO) Phil Knight saying at the time that hockey was North America's fourth-most culturally-significant sport," said John Collins, a former senior executive in Nike's hockey division. "He wanted in."

Nike would wind up paying a frothy $395 million (U.S.) for Canstar, a 50 per cent premium above the level its shares were trading in prior months.

But as the popularity of rollerblades slipped, and several Nike skates were being returned due to awkward fitting, the company started to see the writing on the wall.

"The reality is hockey's a declining market in the U.S.," said Jim Rennie, a sporting goods expert.

The simple fact is, kiddies, that Nike is a MARKETING company, and not a sporting goods company. All of the products that bare the Nike logo are produced by non-Nike factories over in China and other parts of Asia. Why do you think Nike can get away with paying workers 10 cents an hour?

Anyway, ever since their unwelcome intrusion into hockey, Nike has faced a lot of criticism for lowering the quality of the product AND jacking up prices. Like they do for basketball, Nike simply signs up some big names, attached a swoosh to the product, makes it look 'stylish', and raise up the price 200%.

Remember how poorly Tiger Woods played while adjusting to Nike products? Nike entered into a product that they knew little about, and simply sold their stuff based on their name recognition. Nevermind that the products suck, it's all about the stupid logo. Anyone who actually buys a Nike product for something other than actual need should be smacked upside the noggin with a pair of $195 Air Jordan sneakers that have an actual material value of about 47 cents.

Declining market? Yeah, how many people are fed up with spending $400 on some poor-fitting skates? Hockey equipment companies focus so much on technical improvements, that the game is now out of reach for many people.

Growing up with a single mom, there was no way she could afford to shell out $1,000's per year on hockey. So, I had to play other, cheaper sports (rugby, basketball, soccer, etc). Nike was another cog in the machine that made hockey a niche sport for rich kids, and an investment in hockey equipment akin to buying a new car.

Unfortunately, Reebok is making many of the same mistakes Nike has. The new Reebok edge jerseys are a joke (and overpriced), and their equipment is certainly not cheap in price.

What Reebok does has going for them are a true committment to the game, the handsome Sidney Crosby, and good market saturation. While Nike treated hockey like just another stupid investment, Reebok has gone full-bore into the sport, right down from the junior ranks right up to the NHL.

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Does this mean no more white plastic skates? Say it ain't so!
I think Sergei Fedorov took more abuse for wearing those dumb white skates, than he did for doing a 16-yr-old tennis brat.
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