Sunday, January 4, 2009

Americans Like the Ingredients, Why Don’t They Like to Eat the Pie?

Ahh, my first blog at The Love Schack. First of all, thanks to The Schack for inviting me here to share my thoughts on the game that I love the most, Hockey. If you read up on my profile, I work for a brand new website called This is THE online community for all things hockey, so if you like what you read here, I am sure you'll love to see what we have in store for you on the site.

So without further adue, I present to you an article I actually had published a couple of years ago about my thoughts on why Hockey should be the biggest game on North American soil. Enjoy!

In Canada, hockey is the undisputed king of sports. It is part of our cultural identity. If it was apple pie, the question is not “would you like seconds?” It would be more like, “The next one is on its way, with plenty of ice cream.” Sadly, most of our brothers and sisters to the South just don't have a taste for the "ballet on ice." This even furthers the argument that hockey teams shouldn't be allowed to expand or relocate to most American cities (cough, cough, Kansas City, hack, hack).

Both sides of the border are fans of the ingredients that make up hockey. Perhaps breaking things down with some interesting facts may shed some light on the question at hand.

1) College/Junior Hockey

The Frozen Four Tournament is very well received year in and year out. Rabid US college students have a pint (or two) and support their boys on the ice. Americans also got revved up in North Dakota for the World Junior Championship. So why the lack of interest when it comes to watching the best players on the planet?

2) Football (Pro & College)

We invented it, Americans eat it up. "American Football" comes from Canada’s McGill University. The players line up facing one another a few inches apart. Helmets clash. The play is dead. Repeat. Then there are the few occasions when the running back gets more than four yards per carry, or the wide receiver catches a bomb for a touchdown. Of course there are those open field hits and awesome sacks. Now just add skates and drop breaks in the action and... Americans still don't watch hockey. I am hardly knocking the NFL style of game. I enjoy watching some pigskin every once in a while, although I could do without the commentators repeating the word “football” when describing every single play. I know what I am watching, and I know what the ball is called.

3) Baseball

Ok, so I’ll give this one to the USA. Elysian Fields in New Jersey is where baseball was born. A game where guys slap asses, take 'roids, and launch balls (when they actually make contact with them). Toss in the finesse of some spectacular plays in the field, the rare no hitter, and the even scarcer “Perfect Game” and… you still get a sport that takes close to three hours to play. To be fair, I realize that contacting a ball hurling towards you at 90+ mph is a remarkable feat, and perhaps the most difficult skill to execute in any sport (with or without the ‘roids).

4) Basketball

Do I even need to remind you who invented this? Now, I do find the speed and grace of basketball appealing. It's fun on TV and even more exciting live. I just don’t get how these gangsta wannabes hit like little girls in a school yard (lone exception: the Indiana-Detroit brawl).

So it would appear that the Yanks love hard-hitting games with speed, strength, and style – elements that are all inclusive to hockey!

Alright, so we can find things in hockey that Americans love. But what’s more, hockey players don't get fined for celebrating a goal, and they only get a five minute penalty for fighting. Hits are often massive and there are plenty to go around. And it's not called the fastest game on Earth for nothing. The saves a goalie can make are really breathtaking. The individual skill and team dynamics are integral to the game... Where do I stop?

Is it that the puck is hard to see? Americans LOVE GOLF!!! How the H-E-double- hockey-sticks do you follow a WHITE ball in the CLEAR blue sky?!! Is it the lack of teeth? Does the equipment smell that bad!? Is it because it's a sport that Canada dominates? Americans have the “Miracle on Ice!” Finally, could it be the arenas are too cold? Seriously, if you can paint your bare chest green and yellow in the snow-filled Lambeau Field…

All I am asking from our little brother from down South is a reason for the lack of interest. You'd think the NHL Commissioner would do some kind of research on this topic. Hockey is a gate driven business. At this point, Nashville - the top team in the league - is barely drawing 10,000 fans! The NFL has a 3 billion dollar contract with network TV. The NHL has a ZERO dollar contract with NBC. Do the math…

So what say you my American friends? Because if you don't like the pie, we are happy to keep it to ourselves. It’s just our Canadian nature to share.

No offense to the following states:
Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Colorado, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. (The city of Pittsburgh notwithstanding. If Pittsburgh loved its team that much it wouldn't be in perpetual bankruptcy, despite having one of the biggest stars in the game.)

So there you have it. My first blog at The Schack. Feel free to comment because I always love a good discussion about The Good Ol' Hockey Game, because it's the best game you can name...Thanks Stompin' Tom.

The Schwartz, Where Hockey Hits The Net!

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