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Why The Hatred For Hockey?

by Gary Schwind (writer), Laguna Niguel, April 19, 2008

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A lifelong hockey fan wonders why even guys on sports shows are so vitriolic toward the NHL.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun, and for me this is always one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. I grew up sixty miles from Detroit, so I remember watching Hockey Night in Canada and not just when the playoffs began. To me, very few sporting events can match the excitement of an overtime hockey playoff game. However, I realize I am in the minority with that opinion. Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio basically says that he ignores hockey because everyone else does. In a way, I get that. He seems like a very mass appeal sort of guy. Listening to his show, he only seems to like something if 10 million other people like it as well. Recently Jay Mohr hosted The Jim Rome Show and came right out and said, "Hockey sucks." Certainly everyone is entitled to his own opinion. I realize that only a small percentage of Americans follow hockey, but I just can't understand the pure vitriol people have for the sport. So, I started thinking about possible reasons for the hatred some folks seem to have for hockey.

Is it the violence? I have to rule this one out. After all, while the NFL doesn't have fights as a part of the game, it has some pretty violent collisions. And no one can question that the NFL is king. Mixed martial arts fighting is a bloodsport and it seems to be gaining in popularity. In addition, people seem to like a good crash in NASCAR. So, in general, American consumers don't have a problem with violence and carnage. Why would they find a hockey fight so offensive?

Is it because the NHL canceled an entire season? Frankly, I can see how this would turn people off. But let's face it, hockey isn't the only sport to suffer from a strain between the owners and players. Granted, neither the NFL nor MLB has ever canceled an entire season (although MLB did cancel one World Series), but they have had no shortage of strikes and lockouts. Both of those leagues seems to be as popular as ever. Besides, most Americans were probably too busy watching "reality" shows to notice that hockey went missing.

Is it simply a lack of familiarity? Hockey has always been less available on television than football, baseball and basketball. That being the case, a lot of Americans haven't grown up with hockey. Add to that the fact that you don't see hockey players on a lot of ads (like Peyton Manning for instance), and it is easy to see why a lot of folks are not familiar hockey like they are with other sports. Still, that doesn't seem sufficient to provoke the hatred that hockey receives.

Is it because Americans have so many other entertainment options? Again, this one has some credence. It at least explains why Americans choose not to watch hockey. Americans do have a lot of entertainment options, but hockey doesn't really interfere with Dancing with the Stars or American Idol. It doesn't even interfere with soap operas like the NCAA basketball torunament. Yes, we have options, but I can't see how that would motivate people to hate hockey.

So, I'm completely stumped. To me, hockey is way more exciting than baseball. It requires as much athletic ability as football and basketball. It has a violent component, but certainly not more so than mixed martial arts. Yet even sports guys will ignore it and hate it. What am I missing here?



About the Writer

Gary Schwind is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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10 comments on Why The Hatred For Hockey?

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By Gary Schwind on April 19, 2008 at 04:56 pm

I'll grant you all of those things, but come on! Isn't hockey at least more exciting than baseball? That's an unfair question, really, since watching weeds grow is more exciting than baseball.

By the way, you're giving Colin Cowherd way too much credit. He can't even really speak intelligently about college football because he only has eyes for Pete Carroll and USC.

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By D. E. Carson on April 21, 2008 at 12:24 am

The only time I ever got excited about hockey was the "Miracle" game between the USA and the former Soviet Union.  Honestly, I'm not joking.  I watched that game because I knew the Soviets were just plan better at hockey and I, along with the rest of the USA, was desperate to see the Soviets put in their place.  When it happened, I think America's interest hockey was kicked to the curb.  We'd beat the Soviets at their own game and there was nothing left to prove.  It's like sibling rivalry.  Except for Japan, no other country really plays baseball and no other country plays football (at least, not what *WE* call football.  What they call football we call soccer which to me is just as loser a prospect as hockey).  So, we have our home rivalries with baseball, football and basketball, but like the neighborhood bully, the Soviets came to Lake Placid, NY thinking they would stomp us into the ground on our own soil and instead, the USA punted (sorry for the football reference) the Soviets back to Moscow.  We gave the neighborhood bully a black eye at his own game and sent him home crying to his mommy, so there was no reason for us to play the game any more.  America had its glory moment in hockey.  It's a "been there done that" kind of a thing.

As for Colin Cowherd, I think he's in the tank for USC and that's all there is to it.  It's like those dough-heads at CBS who call the NCAA basketball games.  They gave the NCAA championship to Memphis before the game even started.  They don't like Kansas, have never liked Kansas and never will like Kansas.  In fact, they can't say anything nice about any one in the Big 12 conference and have even called it a "Junior league conference."  If it isn't USC or UCLA, none of those sports guys even give it the time of day.  So it isn't just Colin Cowherd, it's all of them.  They're all in the tank for USC or UCLA.  Is it any wonder why the other 49 state hate Southern California college sports?

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By Gary Schwind on April 21, 2008 at 08:34 am

DE, a lot of exciting thing have happened in hockey in the past twenty-eight years. If you like heated rivalries, it didn't get much better than Red Wings-Avalanche in the mid-90s. That's part of what makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs great. Two teams with a long history of hating each other can face each other every year in the playoffs (like the Bruins and Canadiens).

As for Cowherd being in the tank for USC, you're only saying that because he's Pete Carroll's personal fluffer.

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By dmysteryman on April 21, 2008 at 02:04 pm

Hi Gary, I' m a hockey fan, watched the ducks-Stars game up until the final buzzer sounded...

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By Peter Carroll on April 21, 2008 at 03:38 pm

I just told Anze Kopitar he's my number one guy.  So, sorry hockey fans, Anze's my new quarterback.  Oh, and can somebody please tell me how to stop Beenie Wells?  Dude is good and I know my over-rated Rey Rey can't stop him.  Help me, peez.

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By Peter Carroll on April 21, 2008 at 03:44 pm

Oh, and Colin is my personal fluffer.  Dude has made skills.  He is, in fact, my number one fluffer.  Ok boys, I have to go back to the practice field and make sure ol' Marky Sanchez doesn't go out and rape another girl....not that it would really stop me from starting him next year.  Golly, I am so happy to be me.  I mean, yeah, I coached a team that lost to a 41 point dog in my own yard.  So what if nearly 35,000 people didn't show up to the next game against Arizona?  I have loyal fans and they love me.  People should build a statue of the great Petey.  I made people forget the nearly 25 year dry spell this place had before me.  That's right, long before ol' Petey came on board and we made a habit of losing to bad teams like Stanford, SC used to just pray to the ghost of Charles White hoping beyond hope for that Las Vegas Bowl birth so we could get the honor of getting rolled by Fresno State. 

Golly gee guys.  Look what I have done?  I just get so fired up talking about football....golly.  Back to the film room.  Must figure out a way to stop #28.

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By Gary Schwind on April 21, 2008 at 08:30 pm

dmystery, it's good to know someone else out there likes the puck. And I think once you start watching a Stanley Cup Playoff Game, it's hard to turn it off before that final horn ounds.

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By Gary Schwind on April 21, 2008 at 08:30 pm

Oops! Sounds, I mean.

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By D. E. Carson on April 21, 2008 at 10:30 pm

I once went to a fight where a hockey game broke out...

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By Gary Schwind on June 13, 2008 at 10:13 am

Then call me an idjit.

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