Yeah, I’m as shocked as you, but it had to happen eventually.
Now while I have my issues with most professional sports organizations, chiefly for using public money to fund private enterprises and for the most part they are boring to watch, sports themselves are a highly worthwhile endeavor. They promote teamwork, fitness, and, one would hope, sportsmanship. And really, isn’t sports fanatic just the normie way of saying geek out?
First up, kudos to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning this years short but exciting Stanley Cup, and while they aren’t my team, I sincerely offer them and their fans a hearty ‘grats. During this year’s playoffs, I found myself musing about why hockey in particular strikes a chord among the geeky. It has to be more than just popular icons like Wil Wheaton and Kevin Smith publicly showing their devotion to the sport. Although it couldn’t hurt that Smith features it in every movie from Clerks to Clerks 2, I came up with a few core reasons why I love hockey and you should too.
1) Geeks empathize with underdogs. Let’s face it; in the world of professional sports, hockey is the picked on little brother. It doesn’t have the draw or money-making potential of your foose or basketballs. The players aren’t particularly pretty; most of them missing teeth and have more gashes and bruises by the time they hit twenty than most people will see in a lifetime. It’s rough and tumble, seemingly without rules. It’s scrappy, and we like it that way!
2) It’s easy to understand. Hockey doesn’t get mired down in minutia of rules or lost in endless stats and data that may be overwhelming to the uninitiated. There’s three basic penalties: offside, icing, and don’t be a dick and hit other people with your stick. That’s about it! Granted, just as you can with any other sport (and really any other thing worth being geeky about, be it comics, or movies, etc.) you can certainly loose yourself in history, and individual players/teams backstory, stats, etc., but you don’t have to, and that’s a beautiful thing. One can sit down without knowing anything about either team and simply appreciate the artistry on the ice, which leads me to our next point:
3) It’s fracking entertaining. The games are (relatively) short, fast-paced, and action packed. The last baseball game I went to: absolutely nothing happened. We got up to get snacks and drinks and in that five minutes the only two runs of the game were scored. There’s no downtime like baseball, there’s no running out the clock as in football, hockey moves, and you as an observer move with it. You get nervous anytime the opposing team is in your zone for more than ten seconds. The expectation is to not see the other team score, so when it does happen it’s devastating or exhilarating depending on which side of the net you’re on. Sorry, basketball, but I can’t empathize with a “close game” being 103-99; well I guess those three times they didn’t score were real cliffhangers, but it’s OK the other 50 times they did make it, really helped them shake it off. No! that kind of mindset dilutes itself till it’s almost worthless. Give me a game that can hinge on a single mistake!
4) It puts the team in teamwork. Beyond all that, I believe hockey has the most team aspect of any team sport. Most sports can get away with a successful team having two-to-three superstars, and the rest of the spots fill with bodies to flesh out the roster. While there are names like Lemieux and Gretzky that will undoubtedly stand the test of time, hockey truly is a group effort. With line shifts seamlessly happening every thirty seconds or so, being able to grab a W even if your captain spends three-quarters of the game on the bench, and the absence of even one player making a difference, it really is like The Avengers on ice!
Starting in July, Thom will be writing a bi-weekly article on geeky fitness on sports and events to get you off the couch and active while still being entertained!