NHL Backtalk with Jarome Iginla

You’re part of an organization that helps inner-city kids get sporting gear. What got you involved?
Kidsport Calgary provides financial assistance to families that might need it for kids to be involved in any sport—be it soccer or tennis or hockey. They can apply for help so kids can get involved, and it’s a way for me to give back. Sports have been a big part of my life, not only making it in the NHL and making a wonderful living, but friends and memories of road trips as a kid. It means a lot to me.

Hockey hasn’t really caught on among minorities. What else has to be done to ensure that there are more blacks participating in the sport in the future?
Hockey isn’t as accessible as other sports. I have a hockey school here, and it’s one of those sports that if [kids] get a chance to play–especially when they’re younger–[they] love it. It’s a lot of fun to play, and once they play a little bit they get hooked. It’s something that the NHL is trying to work on and it’s something we have to improve—the accessibility of the sport.

That goes along with the NHL’s plan to reach a broader marketplace in the U.S. Hockey is traditionally not among the favorite sports of African Americans. How important is it for the NHL to have a more diverse fan base?
It would be a very good thing to see a more diverse fan base. Hockey is very well represented worldwide with different nationalities, but to get the more diverse fan base, it takes years of getting kids involved younger.

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