For 30 straight years the NFL has been the most popular sport in America. Thirty years the NFL has dominated TV ratings! Sure football is an exciting sport to watch, what with all the bodies colliding and strategic game planning. Football requires a lot of skill, a lot of toughness. But there could be a debate on the sport that requires the most skill, the most toughness. Rugby is similar to football but without any protective padding or helmets. Lacrosse players need to be tough in order to take an inadvertent whack from a stick. However, stop and imagine balancing on 1/10 inch of steel, trying to keep your balance while being shoved around and smacked by a 5 foot solid piece of wood. Not to mention the bruising caused from being slammed into a plexiglass wall. Sometimes, these players take a punch in the face or get their teeth knocked out by a small rubber disk. Yes, I am talking about hockey. The toughest team sport in the world. Hockey clocked in on the Harris Poll ranking the most popular sports in America as the 6th most watched sport. What a joke! We need to watch hockey harder, because it deserves it.
Imagine the first time you stepped into a pair of ice skates. If you’ve never ice skated then you can’t even fathom the difficulty of hockey. It takes lots of practice to become proficient at ice skating, but to do so while getting shoved, starting and stopping on a dime, and moving at high speeds is an art. Hockey players make skating look so effortless and, while in pursuit of a puck, they will skate into or through anything in their way.
The puck. A small rubber disk that moves so quickly that it is hard to follow when watching hockey on T.V., let alone while skating on the ice. The accuracy and skill it takes to handle the puck and avoid getting knocked out by that hard rubber disk is amazing.
Along with the skill it takes to play hockey, what other sport allows you to watch grown men get sent to time out giving the other team an awesome advantage? What other team sport allows for you to punch someone in the face and not get thrown out of the game? There have been some epic brawls during hockey games. Players throwing off their gloves, circling each other, until one inevitably pulls another’s jersey over his head and sends him to the ice in a flurry of punches. Yes! Fights show the grit of the hockey players and gets the fans’ blood boiling. Hockey players have to be truly tough and passionate about the game to let their emotions run wild and tempers flare.
There was once a time when I was not a hockey fan. I was seven years old, and my dad bought season tickets to the Utah Grizzlies (an IHL minor league team at the time). The first time he asked me to go with him, I cried the whole way there. I didn’t want to watch “stupid hockey!” He had to bribe me into the car with promises of a new Barbie. After that first game, I was a changed girl; changed for the better. My dad and I continued to go to hockey games together for years after that and we even watched the Grizz take back-to-back Turner Cup wins. I still get excited when I hear the “Hey” song because that means someone has scored a goal. Watching hockey with my dad is one of my favorite things to do because of all the memories associated with it.
So let’s all be hockey fans. Hockey players are the most skilled, toughest athletes in the world. They deserve more than just Canada’s attention. Hockey players need America to pay more attention. Hockey needs to be watched harder!