You know the line. You don't really have to have fun to drink? Or is it the other way around? Anyway, that is what I thought of when I read this bit of press release in the form of a newspaper article about the way the NHL professional hockey league strike has affected one mega-brewer's sales:
“Whether it’s people not actually physically going to the venues and consuming there, consuming in venues around the outlet before that, or indeed having NHL sort of parties at home, all of those occasions have disappeared off the map and you just can’t replicate them,” CEO Peter Swinburn said in an interview Wednesday. The impact is more pronounced in Canada than in the United States and has particularly hurt sales of Coors Light and Molson Canadian. “It’s a national sport, the whole of Canada is glued to it one way or another so there’s no real regional difference at the moment that we can detect.”
I knew the bonds between beer and hockey were strong in Canada, but I find the news about Canadians embedded in the story more interesting than the news of dropping beer sales. There seems to be a reversal of dependencies being suggested. If cutting pro hockey cuts beer consumption, does it not follow that without hockey Canadians might be a more sober bunch? I had heard some news story that on a macro level the other day work stoppages in entertainment industries do not hurt the economy as the public simply spend the same entertainment dollars in another way. But perhaps Canadians spend the money in settings where higher levels of beer consumption is either less socially acceptable or, as at most of our movies theatres, simply not available.
Does hockey trigger a desire for a macro beer like a coffee might trigger a need for a nic fix in someone trying to break a smoking habit? If so, it is a bit of an odd cultural confession. And this is not about drinking at the game. An early season game last year which may have had a live audience of around 20,000 people reportedly was also watched on TV one way or another by 7.55 million Canadians - out of a total population then of around 34.5 million or around 22% of every man, woman and child. If what Molson-Coors is suggesting about watching the game linking to beer sales amongst a demographic at that sort of scale, shouldn't the forces of neo-temperence up here in the Great White North be lobbying hard for restrictions on public access to televised hockey?