July 27, 2026
Bucks County, PA (AP) -
Today, the AIHA announced that after 18 years as the nation's elite inline hockey league, it will be changing format to a 30-and-over league.
League officials cited the lack of youth development over the past 2 decades as a reason for a dried-up pool of top-level talent, which has eroded not only the number of teams in the league, but also the quality of play and the average attendance.
"I remember back in the mid-90's, when inline hockey was poised for a huge run, and we all managed to screw it up. Every single one of us, from the governing bodies to the insurance companies to the equipment manufacturers to the rink owners. We all screwed up." said League Director Joe Smith.
Retired IHC Moderator (and current protege of Barry Melrose) Richard Graham had the following to say: "I always worried about the state of inline hockey in general. I always tried to be a pioneer and an ambassador for the game, including skating the Great Wall before there was ever a Starbucks in Shanghai - but it was all to no avail. Back in 2007 and 2008, people used to flood my message board with all kinds of great ideas, but nobody ever stepped up and did anything. The guys at AIHL did, but in hindsight, we really needed a focus on the very young. We needed to bring the kids to the forefront."
Indeed, over the last 20 years, participation at the 8U, 10U, and 12U levels has seen a dramatic decline.
The owner of a formerly competitive "Pro" league, Chuck Yodeler feels that the decline was because "the damn parents started pulling their kids out of inline hockey leagues because they saw all the mean things people were saying to each other on Internet message boards."
Jeff Haze also stated some random things about vending machine food that was obviously an inside joke, one that the AP wasn't in on.
Through it all, the refs still get blamed for everything.
Oh, and some guy named ACCCT2 kept going on about marketing, and he requested to be interviewed via email so he could overuse emoticons.
Folks, this is what we'll see in 20 years if we (especially the AIHL) don't make a strong push for youth involvement. It's not necessarily about "The Now", which is creating a league in which elite play can occur with little worry about outside factors like officiating, scheduling, teams showing up, money, and unkept promises.
Rather, it's more about "The Future", which won't exist if there isn't a STRONG, NATIONWIDE effort through the league to introduce new youth to the game, and support the current youth that are playing.