The University of Nevada offers a great deal of sports to its students and student athletes for both participation and viewing. The sports range from basketball, football and baseball to swim and dive, golf and rifling. While there are 16 different sports teams on campus for both men and women, could Nevada add any sports to help round out an already decorated athletics department?
As a sports enthusiast I tend to resonate with contact sports. I enjoy seeing people go full speed at one another, colliding and creating quakes that rival the shake of 9.0 magnitude earthquakes. In my eyes, the only true contact sport the university offers at this point is football. While I do enjoy football, sometimes it’s a little to slow for my liking. Huddles, punts and passing offenses tend to slow down the game, sometimes to a standstill if the defenses are that good, or the offenses are truly atrocious.
One sport I think Nevada would benefit from adding to its mix of athletic events is hockey. Not just because it’s extremely fast paced, hard hitting and I can see spur of the moment fights, but because it’s such an underdeveloped sport in the college atmosphere. Hockey has been around for a while, since 1875 to be exact. While the sport doesn’t have the same following of that of football or baseball in the United States, the sport has grown exponentially in the professional realm. In the last 18 years, the NHL has added three professional teams to its ranks in the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and, most recently, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. On top of the recent expansion to Vegas, Seattle is said to be bidding for an expansion team as well.
Although the professional side of hockey seems to be growing, college growth has been a bit slower. The most recent team to be added to the D-1 hockey ranks was Arizona State University in 2015. That is relatively recent, but before Arizona State created a team it had been 11 years since a college instituted a hockey program on campus.
So it appears that the growth of the college league is pretty stagnant. This may make schools wary to jump in feet first. But I believe the lack of growth right now bodes well for new teams coming in. One of the biggest pros of the league being so small is the fact that it makes recruiting that much easier. Yes, there are a great deal of semi-professional teams outside of the U.S. that players could join, but the United States is still a primary destination for athletes from all around the world. They don’t want to come solely for their respective sports, but also the educational prowess of United States universities.
On top of recruiting it’s important to note the wage gap between the NHL’s highest paid players and that of the NFL and NBA. The current highest paid player in the NHL is Connor McDavid racking in $12.5 million a year across eight years. The highest paid player in the NFL at the moment is Kirk Cousins with his new deal with the Minnesota Vikings coming in at $28 million annually. Lastly, the NBA pays out the most, with the Golden State Warriors paying Stephen Curry $34 million a year.
As you can see in the salaries, the NHL really isn’t worried about money. The players in the sport seem to be more genuine than those that play in basketball and football. I’m not saying that all basketball and football players are greedy, but at some point it looks like they’re playing more for the money than the love of the sport.
Obviously since we’re in college, athletes know they’re not playing for money, but usually for a free education and the possibility of going professional. Nevada’s sports teams have a ton of heart, grit and determination, and hockey as a whole embodies all of those characteristics. If there are any thoughts of Nevada expanding its sports, hockey should be first on the list for athletics expansion.