Numerous studies, reports and commissions keep telling us the same thing: Canada is on the verge of becoming a nation of geezers. Sometime in the next 20 years, the reports say, grey will become the dominant hair colour in this nation.
But take a look at the sports television ratings and you have to wonder if the Day of Grey isn't already upon us.
For the most part, the ratings are dominated by sports that tend to attract audiences that are more knowledgeable about hip replacements than they are about hip hop.
That's not to say viewers under 40 don't exist. The top three spots last weekend -- and the top spots basically from October to June -- belong to the NHL and that league has a pretty solid following among the young. (Which explains the prominence of beer commercials.)
But after that, there are a lot of geezer-type sports. (Note: As a card-carrying member of geezer nation, I am immune to charges of ageism and freely admit to preferring geezer sports.)
The top 10 is rounded out by curling (the ultimate geezer sport), figure skating (a mom and pop sport) and auto racing (biggest among the middle-aged crowd.) Go down a little farther and you see the likes of baseball (the perfect retirement sport) and golf (makes baseball audiences look young.)
As for the sports that appeal to the young, most of them are in the bottom half of the rankings. The NBA boasts of its appeal among the under-30 set. But the Toronto Raptors game against the L.A. Lakers, for example, just cracked the top 20 even though the Raptors are playoff-bound. The NCAA basketball tournament, another favourite of the wrinkle-free, also lags in the rankings, although its audience is likely somewhat larger than the 155,000 who watched on TSN. (The games were also on CBS, which isn't counted in the Canadian ratings.) But even taking that into consideration, it surely ranked behind curling and figure skating.
As for what this all means, there are several possibilities. One is that, as TV executives have feared for decades, young people just aren't interested in sitting down for three hours to watch games on a big screen. Another scenario is that they are interested, but are following their favourite sports online or on their cellphones.
The latter possibility may be of some comfort to the leagues, but it's equally frightening for the networks.
Here are the most-watched English-language sports events for the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. NHL, Sens-Leafs/Panthers-Habs/Kings-Wild, Saturday, CBC-Rogers: 1,900,000
2. NHL, Stars at Canucks, Saturday, CBC: 903,000
3. NHL, Blackhawks at Jets, Sunday, City: 631,000
4. Men's world curling, Canada vs. Sweden, Sunday, TSN: 618,000
5. Men's world curling, Canada vs. China, Sunday, TSN: 491,000
6. Men's world curling, Canada vs. U.S., Saturday, TSN: 481,000
7. Figure skating worlds, free dance, Friday, CBC: 443,000
8. Figure skating worlds, gala, Sunday, CBC: 435,000
9. NHL, Hockey Night In Canada pre-game, Saturday, CBC-Rogers: 433,000
10. Auto racing, NASCAR STP 500, Sunday, TSN: 309,000
11. Figure skating worlds, women's free, Saturday, CBC: 298,000
12. Women's world hockey, Canada vs. U.S., Saturday, TSN: 288,000
13. MLB, Blue Jays vs. Braves, Saturday, Sportsnet: 280,000
14. PGA, Texas Open final round, Sunday, Global: 247,000
15. Women's world hockey, Canada vs. Russia, Sunday, TSN: 230,000
16. PGA, Texas Open third round, Saturday, Global: 229,000
17. MLB, Blue Jays vs. Rays, Sunday, Sportsnet: 222,000
18. NHL, Rangers at Bruins, Saturday, Sportsnet 360: 217,000
19. NHL, Hometown Hockey pre-game, Sunday, City: 192,000
20. NBA, Raptors at Lakers, Friday, TSN: 185,000
21. NHL, Flames at Predators, Sunday, Sportsnet West: 183,000
22. NHL, Flames at Wild, Friday, Sportsnet West: 167,000
23. NHL, Bruins at Hurricanes, Sunday, Sportsnet Ontario-East-Pacific: 164,000
24. Figure skating worlds, men's free, Sunday, CBC: 161,000
25. Auto racing, Malaysian Grand Prix (repeat), Sunday, TSN: 158,000
26. Basketball, NCAA tournament, Saturday, TSN: 155,000 (CBS audience not measured)
27. Figure skating, men's short, Friday, CBC: 151,000
28. NHL, Stars at Oilers, Friday, Sportsnet One: 142,000
29. Soccer, Bulgaria vs. Italy, Saturday, Sportsnet: 138,000
30. Auto racing, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 130,000
THREE TO WATCH
Field of dreams: If you overlook the cracks and occasional falling concrete, Montreal's Olympic Stadium provides the perfect setting for Canada's own field of dreams -- and memories. The now annual Toronto Blue Jays spring training visit provides great nostalgia for what used to be in Montreal and what many hope will eventually be again. This time around, the Cincinnati Reds provide the opposition Friday (7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet) and Saturday (1 p.m., Sportsnet.)
Dreams of vengeance: It's been a pretty rough go for the national women's hockey team seeing that the only team capable of beating Team Canada keeps doing just that. But barring an upset of biblical proportions, Canada will face the hated Americans in the final of the world championship and get another shot at revenge (Saturday, 10 a.m. TSN.)
Dreams of redemption: When Pat Simmons represented Canada at last year's world championship, things didn't go too well. In fact, his rink attained some sort of infamy for returning home without a medal of any colour in a country where curling gold is usually the only acceptable result. Things are looking pretty good this year in Halifax and Simmons and crew have a good chance at redemption. The final is Sunday (3 p.m. ET, TSN.)