Why I’m a hockey fan now
Jason Coleman | Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Every time the Olympic Games roll around, all kinds of sports pick up new fans. It has almost become cliché to talk one’s love of curling after the winter games or a newfound respect for the modern pentathlon (pistol shooting, epee fencing, 200 meter swim, show jumping, and a cross country race) following the Summer Olympics. However, with the passing of the Vancouver games, I have found myself a newly minted hockey fan.
As a Kansas City native, the opportunity to play hockey never really presented itself. There are fewer rinks in the city limits than I could count on my two hands. My high school had a club team, but I don’t have any idea who they played. The closest I ever got to getting into hockey was when Kansas City, Mo. built a puck-shaped arena downtown, and subsequently failed to woo the Pittsburgh Penguins to town. I wasn’t really heartbroken.
However, after watching five or six games over the past two weeks with my hockey-loving roommates, I have to say it is definitely a different kind of sport. While the championship game between the U.S. and Canada ended the Olympics on a thrilling note, it was all the games and personalities in between that got me.
First, I never watched a game closely enough to realize how fast it moves. As a former lacrosse player, I understood how players were subbed in “on the fly” and lines frequently changed to keep the speed at a max. I was not prepared for how seamlessly these changes took place. Collegiate lacrosse is known for wasting tons of time while changing lines, with players often holding or passing the ball around while players move in and out. In hockey, it is not even possible to see when the lines are changing.
Second, the play of goalies is incredible. American goalie Ryan Miller finished the tournament saving 94.6 percent of shots that came his way. With pucks moving off of sticks, feet and walls all around the rink, being able to keep an eye on the puck as a viewer is sometimes impossible. In fact, it seemed that the only bad shots were the ones I could see on TV. Watching these athletes in action is a seminar in hand-eye coordination that TO or Ochocinco couldn’t begin to match.
Third: the hits. One can’t write 600 words about hockey without talking about the hits. Given our football tradition, it follows that American viewers would be into the hits. I am no exception. Whether it was the slam that loosened the outside boards or any of the checks that tore sticks in half, they were always more impressive at high ice speeds. On top of it all, none of these players ever seem to get hurt or call for a timeout. That’s some serious grit.
Fourth, the games are not conducive to commercials or pauses. Sixty minutes of hockey takes two hours on TV, not three or four. That adds up to almost ten more minutes of action per hour than football. The clock keeps running, the hits keep coming and the action stays consistent.
Any hockey fan will look at these reasons and probably gloat. After all, they’ve known this for years. But for me, when taken together, these are all more than enough reason to start watching some hockey in my free time. With a move to Ann Arbor on the horizon, it might be even more important to pick up a team, if only to make sure I can find friends. I’ve heard the Red Wings aren’t bad. Of course, this could fade as fast as so many Olympic fan’s curling dreams, but I have a feeling my newfound enthusiasm is here to stay.
Jason Coleman is a senior accounting major. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.