Between yesterday and today, every team in the NHL played. While my favorite team, The Anaheim Ducks, are not doing so well, I cannot complain too much because hockey is hockey. I was never a “sports” person and I think that affects how I watch hockey. I love to watch any game, as long as the teams are playing to the best of their abilities. Of course, I want “my” team to win, but really, I simply enjoy the sport so much that it doesn’t really matter.
A couple of weeks ago I went to San Jose for a business trip. I spent quite a bit of time in the evenings at the local ice rink pretending I could skate (Let’s just say I definitely know how to windmill). After my skating sessions, though, I would sit nursing my sore ankles and watch the adult pick up games. If, like me until getting into hockey, you don’t know what pick up means, let me fill you in. Pick up games are informal games where, generally, whoever shows up plays. Hockey, being such a team sport, is very interesting to watch when it is pick up games. I have to tell you, though, even with amatuers playing a pick up game, I had a freaking blast.
Hockey is just so much fun.
Like any sport, if you don’t know what you are watching / how the rules work, it’s generally not as fun. One of the best things about hockey is that it is amazingly fast. I actually think that this can be a severe roadblock when people try to watch it. When you don’t understand what is going on and it’s going on at blazing speeds, it’s really easy to get confused. I know until I was sat down and forced to watch it and had explanation, I never found it interesting. Now, I cannot get enough.
This actually makes me think of the “sports” which Americans find most interesting. Most notably are football and baseball. From my very biased perspective, one of the things which these sports have which make them perfect for their audiences is that one does not actually have to sit and watch them with full attention. Both of the sports are a series of very quick action squeezed between long periods of lull which are perfect for drinking beer, eating nachos, and being generally obnoxious.
One of the things watching hockey requires is an attention span. I’ve often heard hockey fans tell non-hockey fans that you just need to go to a game to understand why this sport is great. I’ve come to believe this is true and one of the reasons is that you will see just how fast the game goes and continues to go. There’s no time for anything but enjoying the game.
But I can also see how many people still would not be actual fans–I really think that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Sports, in general, are seeing a declining audience. There’s just too much out there to grab people’s attention and, with the digital age we so graciously live in, there’s so much more participation to it.
Personally, I’ll settle for watching hockey on TV to get the entertainment part and actually getting outside and playing it to the get the participation.