The Thrill Of Watching Hockey
Hockey has a tight-knit fan culture despite being among the top ten most popular sports. This may make outsiders wonder whether they will enjoy watching hockey.
Hockey is fun to watch because it combines high-speed movement, full-contact action, and target-based scoring. As a result, hockey brings the most thrilling aspects of various sports that people enjoy. A cherry on top is the excellent fan culture that will keep you invested and entertained.
In this article, you will learn about the different aspects of hockey that add to its excitement. More importantly, you will learn how to get maximum enjoyment from a game by giving in to the fun traditions that only insiders know.
Being played on ice makes hockey more interesting compared to the sports played on solid ground. That’s because it adds to the thrill of balancing and movement. You can stand and slack off on the ground, but it takes a lot more effort to keep yourself upright if you’re on the ice.
Aside from encouraging movement, ice makes an excellent medium for speed and agility. While ice hockey players may have beast-like physicality, they need to be fast and precise to score. In other words, to some, football can’t even come close to the thrill of hockey as long as the NFL doesn’t introduce a sheet of ice to its stadiums.
It combines high speed and conflict to bring the best of both worlds. There are two ways to make sports enjoyable. The first is to introduce speed, and sports like racing do that really well. The other method is introducing an interactive conflict, and events like boxing seem to corner that market.
However, hockey combines the two and brings low-resistance, high-speed movement, and two-party conflict to the centerstage. As a combination, the sport becomes twice as thrilling.
If you enjoy football, it is worth noting that the game is a two-party conflict that happens at running speed. Now imagine a two-team full-contact face-off at ice skating speed: that’s hockey!
In theory, boxing should be one of the most exciting sports: what is more thrilling than a fight sport? However, the weight classes, victories by decision, and point-counting have turned the sport into a slow-paced dodging contest where taps can win points. Fortunately, hockey hasn’t given referees as much control of the game.
Players have a higher degree of control in the game’s pace, engagement level, and even how much contact is involved. This control means the audience gets more of what they want because they go to the arena for the players, not the referees.
If you’re interested in learning more about why hockey is a contact sport, we have an article discussing that topic.
One of the best parts about hockey is how well-integrated its fans are into the craze. It seems quite eccentric when you describe hockey on paper: multiple adults with sticks passing a disk while engaging in physical conflicts.
The fans accept the sport’s eccentricity with open hearts, and you have booing-battles and chant-battles happening in the arena. If you support a team, you wear its colours, and most importantly: you don’t shave your beard during the playoffs to help your team move along further. It works for at least one team each year.
When you get introduced to hockey, it is a gateway into the fan culture becoming a significant part of your identity. A sense of community and someone to root for makes a good part of the year exciting as eighty-two games push them closer to being the best team of the year.
If you plan on attending a game in person, make sure to check out our article on how early you should arrive at a hockey game.
One of the complaints people have with sports like boxing is that boring players can become title-card fights. On the other hand, sports like football are geared towards picking the best from events like the Superbowl. Hockey playoffs occur over many more games than the trip to the Superbowl.
For a team to win the Stanley Cup, it has to win sixteen out of up to twenty-eight games. Remember that stakes are high for all twenty-eight games because only sixteen teams qualify for the playoffs by proving themselves throughout the year.
Some sports are notorious for setting up the wrong role models. While these athletes flash expensive cars and glorify wasteful spending, most hockey athletes are sweet and kind off-ice, engaging in athletic and social responsibility by visiting hospitals and brightening the lives of their fans.
They are tough and remain persistent on the ice despite getting hit in the face with a puck or breaking bones upon falling. Whether your kid joins a hockey program at the age of five (when minor hockey starts) or plans to go in a different direction, the lessons in kindness and persistence are universally valuable to kids and grown-ups alike.
Scoring gets at least a fist pump and a “YEAH” from players in every sport, but in hockey, a goal is celebrated in the most entertaining way ever. A “celly”, as fans call it, sometimes involves skating at high speed, often with a single skate and spinning in circles in front of fans.
There is no strict format to a celly but if you doubt hockey’s thrill, look at the video below for a compilation of the best cellys.
Aside from different ways the athletes celebrate their goals, they have traditions and superstitions that become part of the NHL lore. Hockey fans sometimes play along with universal traditions like playoff beards. In other instances, they enjoy the eccentricity of seeing a player tap his stick eighty-eight times to outline the Canadian maple leaf during the anthem.
The pre-game traditions of athletes that you do not get to see, like Talbot, who boxes with Fleury before every match, only show how high-stakes the sport is that athletes resort to such magical thinking to aid their performance.
As we discuss the level of thrill and excitement in hockey, it is vital to explore fan engagement and insider-traditions. Below are some of the traditions you can be a part of as a hockey fan.
- Playoff beards: If your team qualifies in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you do not shave your facial hair until your team wins the cup or gets eliminated.
- Hat trick: Ever wonder why the hat trick is called a hat trick? In many games, it stands for three goals in a row, but it started with hockey when a hat dealer offered a free hat to any player who scores three goals in a row. Fans began throwing their hats onto the ice after someone from their team pulled off a hat trick. To this day, this tradition exists and has graduated to caps.
- A team song: From ‘O Canada’ to the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, there are multiple anthem-traditions that are team and region-specific but regardless of the team you cheer for, you’ll have something to sing along with on most stadium visits.
Hockey is a very entertaining sport because it has multiple dimensions. If you love fights, you will get to see them in hockey. If you enjoy goal-scoring, then that will draw you to hockey, and if you just want high speed, then the action on ice will have you engrossed.
Last but not least, we all love a sense of community, and you will find yours in hockey as a fan with traditions to uphold, songs to sing along with, and colours to wear.
- Congressman Mike Quigley: ESPN Chicago: ‘Hockey Should Be for Everybody’
- The Odyssey Online: 11 Reasons Why Hockey Is The Best Sport
- NHL: Hockey Playoff Traditions