An open letter to the clubs of the AIHL

Dear AIHL member clubs,


Today is an important day as you decide whether the AIHL finals weekend 2013 from the impressive Melbourne IceHouse will be streamed live online as it has been in previous seasons or whether it will be recorded and shown on Fox Sports Australia in a couple of weeks time.


The deal the AIHL reached with Fox Sports was a landmark moment in the history of ice hockey in Australia. It’s a fantastic achievement that should be celebrated. I can understand that both parties want to make the both of this deal and the desire to maximise the audience is common sense and commendable but to do that at the expense of what got the AIHL “to the dance” seems to me, to be counterproductive.


What brought the AIHL to the dance is the live streaming of games. Born and living in Britain as I do, I went from not knowing that Australian ice hockey existed to a few years later where I am now writing for the AIHL’s website. My articles under the title “From the outside, in” would not have happened nor been possible if the AIHL was not arguably the most accessible league in the world.


Every week this season, dedicated teams of volunteers in member cities across Australia put out a quality product that entertains not just fans in far flung places like Britain and families of North American imports but fans in Australia. To coin a phrase your nation is a big, really big. Away travel isn’t a viable option for many fans and live streaming the games not only introduces fans from overseas to the fun, exciting product that the AIHL offers but keeps Australians in touch with their league.


Finals weekend promises to be the best ending to an AIHL season ever with the most competitive weekend on record and to hear that the clubs are possibly going to shut out one of the really unique elements of the league can in my opinion only be summed up in one word; counterproductive.


Continuing to build the fanbase that the AIHL has already built cannot happen by removing one of the cornerstones that brought us to this point. The weekend that should be providing maximum exposure for the bes the AIHL has to offer would then only be available to a bare minimum and that can’t be the best thing to do to further grow this great game of ours.


From Brisbane to British Columbia we’re hoping that you will all see sense today and make a decision that will benefit not only the fans but the league in general. Put this league on the widest stage possible with an infrastructure that is already in place, widely used and widely appreciated. The fans will respond in kind, that’s a certainty.


Yours in hockey,


Anthony Russell

Banners On The Wall and AIHL website contributor


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