Hockey is an under-appreciated sport that more people should give a chance.
In our culture, hockey is often very overlooked and overshadowed by baseball, football and soccer. I grew up watching hockey, and there isn’t a single person in my family who doesn’t. So maybe I am a little biased when I say hockey is the greatest sport to ever be played and no sport will ever surpass it. But my time here at William Jewell College has shown me one thing. An extremely small percentage of our student body watches hockey. Some people have never even been exposed to hockey. Since college is about trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone, you should all try to watch a little more hockey.
The National Football League has a solid 11 minutes (on average) of playing time per game. Yes, those 11 minutes are hard-hitting and sometimes even jaw-dropping, but at the end of the day the action seems very short-lived. It is not that way in hockey. The play is constantly back-and-forth, with the clock rarely stopping. The players are constantly moving because they’re skating. No one is standing around in center field waiting for something to happen or crouched in a huddle drawing up plays. There’s no time for that in hockey, it all moves too quickly to waste any time. The players are too busy doing everything possible to defeat the opposing team.
So constantly moving play isn’t enough to convince you to give it a shot? Would you give hockey a shot if I told you the players fight on a nightly basis? And these aren’t just yelling matches mixed with a little shoving, these are REAL brawls. Helmets and teeth are lost. Blood is shed. Sure, it does nothing to affect the score of the game, but they’re so much fun to watch. Tell me you wouldn’t pay attention to more sporting events if they regularly featured men punching each other in the face. Exactly.
Brutality isn’t your cup of tea? Hockey has one thing everyone can enjoy: goals. Thanks to players like Alexander Ovechkin and Patrick Kane, goals are certainly not absent from the games. There’s very rarely a time in hockey when someone isn’t scoring a goal. My point is, hockey isn’t all violence, those really skilled scorers can really shock us with their ability to put the puck in the net.
How many times are “rivalries” touted as selling points in sports by different leagues? Those “rivalries” very rarely live up to the hype of it all. Hockey, unlike those other sports, takes rivalries very seriously. Flyers-Penguins, Bruins-Canadiens, Sharks-Kings and Blackhawks-Red Wings are just some of the teams with serious beef between them. This isn’t just something made up by the NHL to make a profit or taken too far by the fans; these teams genuinely despise each other. If you want to see a game between teams that can’t stand to be in the same building together, let alone play against each other, hockey is the sport for you.
Speaking of intensity, there is nothing in sports as intense as NHL playoffs. Not the Super Bowl. Not the World Series. Those don’t even come close. An NHL stadium during the playoffs is full of more raw emotion than any other arena in sports. The road to playoffs is long and hard, those men have rightfully earned their place there and the fans know it, although they may loudly disagree with who the winner is. This is when you see the real madness. The games are much faster-paced, the fans are louder, and the atmosphere is indescribable. It is the most wonderful time of the year.
I could continue on with specific reasons why more people should watch hockey, but the bottom line is that hockey is best explained if you just watch it for yourself. Hockey requires your full attention and energy, but that’s where all the fun comes from. As the season is just around the corner, I hope you all take the time to watch at least one game, you have 85ish games to choose from. Don’t waste the opportunity to try something new this school year, you never know, you might just get hooked.
Photo Courtesy of CBSSports.