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An Advisers Life – Understanding The Business Of Tier II Hockey – A Parents Guide

Every July and August, the phone calls and emails literally rain in.  It really is so predictable, I wrote the majority of this column in May and waited until the right time to publish it today.

Over the weekend we began getting phone calls and emails from parents complaining about the Tier II camp process.  In general they complained about the volume of players, the cost, and the lack of organization for some.  The most common theme though was the parent and player feeling the “opportunity” to make a team was not what they “expected” or “believed” it should be.

Parents, Tier II hockey is expensive for team Owners.  This is not a hobby.  Though Owners truly enjoy watching players move upward and onward, they are not in this business to lose a lot of money.  They didn’t become wealthy by operating huge money losing business operations.

For purposes of this demonstration I am going to use very general rounded off numbers.

The “average” Tier II team will operate on a budget between a half million and one million dollars.  That is generally speaking between Canada and the United States.  A lot depends on geography, the arena lease, labor costs, travel costs, etc.

With a 23 man roster, that is an average investment in each player of roughly twenty two thousand and fifty thousand dollars.  That is per player.

So, when you see a camp for $300 and 250 players attending the parent begins thinking; “Wow this is a money maker”, or “what a money grab”.  So here is some more food for thought.

Even if, after paying for ice, referee’s, jerseys, advertising, coaches and all other expenses, the team clears fifty thousand dollars on the camp.  That’s only ten percent of a low end Tier II budget.

If the team has three of those camps, that would be one hundred and fifty thousand out of five hundred thousand dollars in their budget.  I can assure you that no Tier II teams are having that much camp success.

But assuming they did, they would still have a three hundred and fifty thousand dollar shortfall in a low end budget.

That money is made up from sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandising primarily.

Lets assume, they have 30 home games.  This means they have to generate more than ten thousand dollars per night at home games, just to break even.

Again these are all very general non specific numbers, and no where near as detailed as real budgets are in well run organizations.

The purpose of this is not only to inform you, but to get you to look in the mirror.  Look in the mirror and think about what you are doing before you do it.

If you go to a camp and you don’t feel you got a good opportunity, did you ask the right questions before registering?  In most cases you do not.

In most cases, parents and players never ask how many players will be there.  How many players at my position?  How many open roster spots do you have for my position?  How many import player spots do you have?  Or any other number of prequalifying questions.

In many cases, parents and players simply take out the credit card and pay.

In most cases its the parents and players who don’t do the work before hand that end up complaining.  Those same families are the ones who spend a national average of $6500 each summer chasing the dream.

The teams are doing their job.  They are providing opportunity.  Want an opportunity?  Pay to go to camp.  But don’t expect anything to be handed to you.  Instead you might want to try dominating at camp and justifying the cost of opportunity.

If you are an average player at your current level of play, what makes you begin to think you actually have a chance at Tier II?  Does an “average” 2.5 GPA student actually have a chance of getting admitted to Harvard?

Parents and players need to start making smarter decisions.  Rather than complaining about Tier II teams doing their jobs and selling “opportunity”, isn’t it time to actually evaluate “opportunity”?

Evaluating opportunity, isn’t only about asking the team the right questions.  It is about being honest with yourself and looking for a very specific opportunity that fits you as an individual.  Its not about going from camp to camp getting cut every weekend.

If you can not do the work yourself, hire an adviser that actually knows what he is doing.  If you hire a good one, he will save you money in the long run, and a lot of disappointment in the immediate future.

Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser


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