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Is hockey elitist or populist and why?

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The answer to this varies from country to country.  In the United States, hockey is an elitist sport in terms of participation.  In Canada, it is much more of a populist sport.

The reason for this has mainly to do with the cost of playing.  In the US, hockey tends to cost the family of a participant a great deal of money.  By contrast, while hockey does cost a lot in Canada, its cost is (as can be seen in this link, the cost is not extremely high.  The fact that over 500,000 kids participate in youth hockey indicates that it is not a sport that can only be afforded by the elite.

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