Sponsors betting inline hockey past fad status

InLine Association has 20,000 members in North AmericaThe National InLine Hockey Association is betting the inline skate will not go the way of the roller skate - onto the basement shelf.Organizers of the association believe this form of hockey has transcended...

InLine Association has 20,000 members in North America

The National InLine Hockey Association is betting the inline skate will not go the way of the roller skate – onto the basement shelf.

Organizers of the association believe this form of hockey has transcended the fad category and has, along with ice hockey and field hockey, entered the realm of true sport.

The Miami-based association expanded to Canada last spring, and is preparing for its second season here.

An impressive list of sponsors has already embraced the three-year old association, including ccm, Franklin, Jofa, Koho, Rollerblade and Ultra-Wheels, among others.

Post Multigrain Team has been named the official breakfast cereal of the inline hockey association, and a picture of the inline hockey players graces the box.

The association boasts 20,000 members in Canada and the u.s.

In Canada, the association has signed on 12 leagues, and says it is in discussion with many more, but specific numbers of Canadian participants are not available until registration later in the spring.

‘It’s really picking up,’ says Graham Balog, membership and events co-ordinator at the Canadian headquarters in Edmonton.

‘We’ve got leagues running in just about every province,’ Balog says.

He says the 9-11 age category tends to be the most popular.

According to Balog, ‘the adult division is catching on, but a little more slowly.’

Individual members get badges, stickers, a membership card, rule book, and comprehensive and liability insurance, as well as discount status with a number of retailers and manufacturers.

Rollerblade, for example, gives a $20 rebate to members of the association who buy its skates.

League membership in the association brings with it a banner, liability insurance, administrative software, referee and coaching material, and other promotional and organizational materials.

Sponsors are listed on all association printed materials, including the rule book, banners, and newsletters.

For a $200 fee, retailers can become National InLine Hockey Association-preferred retailers, and receive the p-o-p promotional materials, and distribution rights for association apparel, videos, rulebooks, and magazines.

The National InLine Hockey Association has been promoting itself in sports publications such as Hockey News, and a new publication called Canadian Blader.

The association creates its ads in-house.