*And possibly factually incorrect
I don’t like football. I actually kind of almost hate it. Hate is a strong word reserved only for raw tomatoes, spiders and IVs for me.
I’ve watched 2 entire Superbowls in my life – the first was in 2006 when the Steelers won. I was a freshman at Pitt and my friends made me watch it. I did my physics homework while the game was on. Not just any physics, but the worst physics (for me) – electricity and magnetism. Lets be honest, when I say entire, I mean that I was physically in the room while the whole game was on and didn’t walk away.
The second was this year (2012). I made it through the first half, but then after a few beers at a high altitude (I was in Colorado. It was when I fell down a mountain.) my mind began to wander and I started surfing the internet and reading my RSS feed. I have attempted to watch other games in the past. In 20whatever, the year the Steelers won again, I tried going to my boyfriend at the time’s house and watching the AFC Championship. I had a skating competition that weekend and got to his house half way through the game. I passed out from exhaustion around the beginning of the forth quarter and woke up after everyone had left. I didn’t even try and watch the Superbowl that year – another skating competition and more ultimate napping.
I was in marching band in high school. Not once did I actually pay attention to the games. Well I guess I paid attention to the one game because I was dating a football player. But he tore some stuff in his knee and didn’t play again the rest of the season. I went to Pitt and if you don’t know anything about college football, they are supposed to be good every year and then aren’t. I went to maybe 4 games. Don’t remember anything about them other than it was hot and sunny at one of them and the rest I was bored or didn’t even go into the game and just stayed in the parking lot.
I gave up on football. Not even being around a group of friends in a bar or house and watching games does it for me. Probably because I’m the only one that doesn’t actually give a shit about either of the teams or what is going on nor am I interested in every trying to care. This past Sunday, I was kind of forced to be in the room. I had nowhere to go and it was cold outside.
As I watched the game and the final and them passing around the trophy, I thought about all of the reasons why hockey is better than football.
The Size of the Trophy
Lets be honest. The Lombardi Trophy is tiny. Standing at only 22 inches high and weighing a mere 7 lbs, the thing could be hefted one handed by a 100 year old grandma. They make a new one every year – lame. This particular trophy isn’t even that old. The tradition first started in 1967 by a dude who made a sketch on a napkin [I got this from Wikipedia, the most reliable source]. So what if it is made by Tiffany’s. That is a bit prissy, don’t you think? They don’t even really let the players hold it. An old guy (I’m sure he is special, but no one I was with could tell me who he was) holds it and walks through the team letting them touch it and then gives it to the owners of the team like they had anything to do with the blood, sweat, and tears that went into winning the damn thing in the first place. They worked so hard picking the team, running through drills, giving pep talks… oh wait. They didn’t do any of that.
The Stanley Cup, aka The Holy Grail, stands over 89 inches tall and weighs as much as a small child – 34.5 pounds. Unlike all other major sports trophies, it is not re-made each year. The winning team gets their name engraved on the rings. You get to hold the very same cup that the greats before you hoisted above their heads in glorious victory! The cup is handed over to the team and the captain thrusts it over his head and then passed around to each member of the victorious team (yes I know, this wasn’t started until the 30’s and made a regular practice until the 50s…still). There have been a few exceptions of this act – 1993, 1998, and 2001. Super awesome of theses guys to do this.
Lord Stanley brought about the cup in the early 1890’s after decided that a trophy was needed to be passed around the the champions in the amateur hockey league.You can read a much better description of the history and events of the cup here. Of course it isn’t the same trophy used today, but there was a trophy that resembled a cup that was passed from championship to championship team with their names engraved on a ring. In 1926, after the other hockey leagues folded and the NHL remained, the cup became the defacto trophy for the National Hockey League. Pretty cool, huh?
What else is awesome about the cup? The teams can’t keep it. It isn’t theirs. They have the pleasure of holding the cup for the year until the next playoffs. Each of the players on the winning team is allowed 24 hours to do whatever they want to with the cup. Whatever they want – as long as it is returned in perfect condition.
One of the oldest traditions – way back from 1896 – is the winning team drinks champagne out of the bowl after their victory.
Game Time and Season Length
I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’m sure there are many people out there who agree and I know a few myself. Football takes way too damn long. Most of the time, players are just standing around anyway. Then 2 seconds of play. Then 5 minutes of standing. Then 5 seconds of play and then 10 minutes of standing.
Who can watch that? Who has that type of attention span where they can just watch people standing. It’s like watching paint dry. Not even fun paint like watercolor which can dry quickly or acrylics, but oil paint… or house paint. Hours. Just hours of 4 seconds of play, and then standing. Maybe something exciting happens once or twice. But really you just watched people standing for 4 hours. You have no idea how long the game will be when you start off at the beginning of the standing journey. 6:00 game? Who the hell knows what time that will be over, but you know you’ll see a lot of commercials and a lot of standing.
Hockey? You know about how long the game will take. You have 3 20 minute periods. If the game starts at 7, it should be over around 9:30. If the game starts at 7:30, you should be done around 10. If you make it to overtime, you get 5 minutes of 4 on 4 hockey – sudden death. No break between regulation time and overtime. So maybe that 7:00 game will end around 9:45 instead. After that 5 minutes of overtime, you get a shootout. Most of the time, that is an extra MAYBE 5 minutes of play time. An overtime game finishing in a reasonable amount of shoot-out rounds (3-5), should end around 10:00 if it started at 7.
Of course, playoffs are different and the games can go for hours and hours since shoot outs do not exist in playoff hockey. Shootouts can last forever too. In 1936 one bout of overtime lasted over 116 minutes – 6th overtime. For the Penguins, they were playing the Flyers in 2000 – over 92 minutes of overtime – 5th overtime. The longest shoot out went through 14 rounds – 28 shooters until the 30th shooter, Marek Malik, scored.
As far as season length goes – its a long one. Pre-season starts around the end of September and regular season around mid-October. Playoffs can stretch through the beginning/early middle of June. Almost 9 months of hockey. The best part for the die hard fans like myself? Only around 2.5-3 months of hockeylessness. I don’t mean, teamlessness, but just general hockeylessness. If you really love hockey and really any other sport, you’ll continue watching the playoffs even after your team is out – which would be me.
I invented 2 words right there.
Live Game Viewing Experience
I know a lot of people who don’t really like hockey, but love going to live games. Just like watching on TV, they are fast paced. Action is almost constant. You can feel the energy of the crowd and its really easy to get into the game when almost everyone else there is probably a die hard fan. At the end of the season you don’t have to bundle up for games either. I know that in a lot of cities, if you’re going to a game in December-February, its snowing or raining or some combination of the two and freezing and you need to bundle up. Ice rinks can be cold depending on their location, but once you get the crowd in there or if its warm outside, its not that bad. A t-shirt, jersey, or light sweater should do the trick – even for those that are completely intolerant to cold. Ok, so maybe those people should wear a long sleeve shirt under their sweater.
But still. Even in January, in the heart of the season, the only time you’ll need your winter jacket is waiting in line and tailgating.
I stole this from my BFF’s GF.
Teams have not one measly game to determine the champions, but each round can be up to 7 games long. That is 7 games to fight your way through. This year’s playoffs are a good example of how teams who haven’t had a great season can claw their way through a series to come out on top and move on. This year, three eastern conference series went 7 games. There were major upsets. The penguins? Lost in 6 games to the Flyers. Washington, who wasn’t even sure they were making playoffs managed to pull out a win in 7 games against last year’s champions the Boston Bruins.
What better way to make playoffs exciting than to let the teams battle it out for more than one game? I know that it adds extra time onto the already long season (to me, this isn’t a bad thing), but it is the most exciting part of playoffs. Teams want it. They want it bad. They don’t have to decide what happens in one measly game like they do in Football. They can redeem themselves. A fantastic (well to me) result of these longer playoff spans and really for the volatile sport that is hockey, is the rise of the underdog. I mean, who would have thought that the Western Conference Final would be between the LA Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes and that the Kings would rise above the New Jersey Devils? I mean, it’s Phoenix! What the hell? Nashville made it into the second round. Crazy stuff right there.
I can list many more reasons – most of which are slightly more personal. Some include the attractiveness of the players (But that’s more for ladies and men who love men) and how genuinely nice the players are (though there are some bad eggs, but at least no one has a dog fighting ring or rapes anyone).
Instead I will leave you with this: