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Hockey – Deserving of More Fans?

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A couple of nights ago, my roommate and I were doing a little bit of late-night channel surfing….the real world? no….after-hours music videos? no….the cooking channel? definitely not….NHL hockey? Yeah, sure. Why not? But as I was thinking a little hockey was in order before bedtime, my roommate gave a resounding ‘not a chance.’ So, we watched something else, probably something on ESPN. But that got me to thinking – why does hockey get such a bad rap? How has hockey become a virtual non-existent in the minds of sports fans in this country? Remember the days during the hockey strike? No? Neither do most other Americans. But why? What is it about hockey that turns us off?

Americans are generally impatient people. We want what we want and we want it now!! That is the basic mentality here in the USA, is it not? So, one could argue that hockey may not be exciting enough for us; that it doesn’t fulfill our incessant need for instant gratification. But, if you look at the typical scoring line for hockey games, you’ll see that there is plenty of action. Most games have anywhere between 5 and 10 goals, sometimes more. And seeing as how the game is only 60 minutes long, goals are being scored every few minutes. Furthermore, if a game ends in a tie, they have a sudden death shootout to decide the winner. How much more action could you possibly want?

Or, could it be that we don’t think hockey players are athletic enough to pull of the spectacular plays to which we have become accustomed watching basketball and football. Maybe. But if you watch hockey closely, you’ll see that hockey is without a doubt one of the most action packed displays around. With 10 players flying around the rink in excess of 35-40 mph, the stick work and passing is exhilirating, while the hits are utterly bone shattering and sometimes near fatal. As a result, a fair assessment is that spectators definitely get their money’s worth.

So, what is the deal? Why can’t a sport that has the high-paced action of basketball and the hard hitting of football seem to gain a wide enough audience base? I really can’t put my finger on it. I for one am a huge fan of hockey. Yes, most other fans sport outdated mullets, are missing some of their teeth and say things like ‘hoser’ and ‘eh’ all day long. But, the sport is exciting just the same. Maybe we Americans don’t prefer hockey because of its foreign origins and the lack of a basic understanding of the rules. Whatever it may be, I think that hockey deserves more respect and credit than the sports gives it.

Nishan Wilde is VP of Sales for Robbins Sports and Athletics, an online resource for Gym Bags, Punching Bags and Basketball Uniforms.