The absence of college hockey in Illinois has forced local players to play out of state, but the new Chicago Blackhawks practice facility could provide a home for a new program
Collegiate sports in Chicago have always been a tough draw. Because of the mass amounts of professional sporting events (such as Chicago Blackhawks games), music and other forms of entertainment, Chicagoans tend to slight college sports as inferior.
We do have several universities in the Chicagoland area, but few are successful when it comes to athletics. To this day, Loyola University is the only Illinois school to win a NCAA national championship in basketball (1964) even after so many great players have come from Chicago.
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The problem is that elite recruits leave our state to attend better programs elsewhere. And such is the case with hockey, considering we have none.
Growing up in Chicago, every kid played basketball or at least tried. The cool fads were rocking your AND1 T-shirt, wearing a pair of red Bulls basketball shorts and sporting some sort of Jordan kicks. Everybody wanted to be like Mike.
The popularity of Michael Jordan and the Bulls of the ’90s inspired many of basketball’s great players today, which gives reason for Chicago to invest in amateur hockey.
Since winning three Stanley Cups in seven years, the Blackhawks have been the hottest ticket in town. So hot, it’s rare you can get into the UC without paying upwards of $100 to sit in the nosebleeds, unless a certain baseball team from the north side is in the playoffs at the same time.
Kids in the city and surrounding suburbs are watching Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on TV like we did Jordan, hoping someday they could too be Stanley Cup champions. These dreams and aspirations may only become reality for a small fraction of the kids, but giving them the resources they need to succeed only strengthens their chances.
Let’s take a look at why college hockey should be in the Windy City.