I just watched what was not only the first hockey game I’ve ever seen, but my first ever live and in-person hockey game.
Obviously I have nothing to say about it and I don’t know why I even brought it up.
That’s not true. Having seen one complete semi-professional hockey game, I now feel qualified to have strong opinions about the whole sport.
First, an explanation of the rules for those of you not familiar with them: There are no rules in hockey, perhaps other than no being wussy. Anything someone experiencing road-rage would think was a good idea goes.
Second, the objective: Get the puck into the net. If for some reason you are unable to do this, turn around and punch the person nearest to you, even if it’s your own teammate or the ref or the sick kid who finally got his wish to ride the Zamboni.
Now you understand hockey as well as I do. Here’s my thoughts.
Hockey is violent. In football you tackle someone to stop them from progressing. In hockey you tackle someone in order to have a better angle to punch them in their vital organs. In other sports, fights break out because of perceived bad plays (e.g. a player purposefully tripped you when the ref wasn’t looking). In hockey fights break out because…puppies, apparently.
Fights break out with no provocation.
What the refs consider a fight and what I consider a fight are completely different. I generally consider it a fight as soon as someone starts waving their fists around. In hockey, it isn’t an actual fight until someone loses a body part. And not just any body part. It has to be a vital body part. Then the refs decide if it’s an important enough body part or not and that’s how it’s determined to be a fight:
Something that should not be on the outside of someone’s body comes off: that’s a fight.
Somebody loses an arm: as long as the player still has at least one arm left, it’s still not a fight.
The best seats in the hockey arena are also the scariest seats. Front row, half court seats are valued in all sports. They allow you to see all of the action, by which I mean which players are the cutest. But in hockey, there’s only a flimsy, unstable, plastic wall between you and large amounts of bodily harm. You have not known real fear until you have a puck flying at approximately 10,000 mph directly for your face, followed closely behind by eight 250 pound guys skating at full force straight at you, all of which is supposedly going to be stopped by that flimsy, unstable, plastic wall. Which follows to my next point…
What does one say when coming face to face with a hockey player who is pinned against the glass right in front of you? You sit there awkwardly staring at each other and I couldn’t help but feel the need to introduce myself or perhaps commiserate that I often found myself in similar situations in my work as a customer service representative. But I’m not good at social situations, especially when there’s blood involved.
Hockey is probably the only sport where fans lives depend on them paying close attention to the action. In baseball, everyone runs for the foul ball. In hockey, everyone runs for their lives from the foul puck. Maybe those walls should be taller, if not sturdier. But maybe the danger is part of the fun. Like those people who go bungee jumping without checking the length of their rope vs the length of the drop.
In the middle of the game, I was instructed by the mystical announcer voice to cheer in favor of letting one of our players out of the penalty box early, which brought up a couple practical and ethical questions:
(1) Has cheering ever actually convinced a ref to let a player out early? I don’t want to be goaded into a completely futile act. I’d like to see some statistics about the success of this method before I blindly get involved.
(2) Shouldn’t the player serve his full time for choosing to break the rules as he did? I don’t know if I, as the daughter of a lawyer, can throw my support behind letting someone off the hook for a crime they did commit. At least I’m assuming a crime was committed. As I mentioned, hockey doesn’t seem to have rules. Maybe someone was acting non-aggressive. Since no amount of violence seemed against the rules, maybe it’s non-violence that’s a violation. Maybe our player in the penalty box told a player on the other team that he skated really well or that his hockey uniform was very flattering for his body type.
It was definitely an experience I will never forget. Because these blood stains do not seem to be coming out.