Column – Hockey: A neglected sport

April 16, 2008 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

As I write this, the Dallas Stars are up two games to one against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs.

They have had their ups and downs this season, but for the most part they have looked like potential champions. They certainly showed that in the first two games of this playoff series, handily beating the Ducks – the defending champions from last year – on their home ice.

I’m not usually much for sports. Unless it’s playoff time, I can usually take them or leave them. But something about hockey absolutely enraptures me. Yet, it seems like most of Texas – if not most of the United States – still doesn’t care much about the sport.

Of course, fans of hockey seem to make up for it with sheer passion for the game. My dad I go to a lot of the Stars games at the American Airlines Center when I’m back home in Dallas, and there’s always a ton of energy in the arena, whether there’s a sell-out crowd or not.

Yet the amount of hockey fans still feels lacking at times. During football season, I couldn’t go anywhere in my dorm while a game was on without hearing at least two TVs playing the broadcast. But when I was watching Game 3 against the Ducks the other night, a friend of mine entered my room and said, “Oh. There’s a game on tonight?”

The night after Game 1, when Stars goalie Marty Turco shut out the Ducks and led us to a 4-0 victory, I decided to poke around the Anaheim Ducks message boards so I could have the pleasure of seeing them scream – or at least type in big, bold letters – their disappointment. While there, I saw a post from a Ducks fan who currently resides in Dallas, who said to the many Californians something like, “These rednecks here don’t care about hockey. I wore my Ducks jersey out everywhere today and no one even noticed.”

And I have to wonder exactly why this is. I know that baseball is supposedly “America’s pastime” and that we basically live in football country, but I’m honestly surprised that more people don’t appreciate the speed, the skill, and the toughness of a good hockey match.

Sure, it’s easy to call hockey a “Canadian” sport, but some of the best teams in the league these days are definitely American. Pittsburgh, Detroit, Anaheim, Dallas, San Jose… Only three of the teams in the NHL playoffs right now are Canadian, and one of them just got eliminated.

So if this Stars team advances in the playoffs this year – and things certainly look good – then I would absolutely love to start seeing more team spirit around the area. I see Mavericks stuff everywhere, and sure, that’s absolutely awesome, but we can support two teams at once.

And why stop at the national level? I can certainly see why Texas Tech football and basketball games are so popular, and while I’m not always the biggest fan of those sports myself, I certainly caught the Red Raider fever as soon as I arrived on campus. But why haven’t I seen as much of that fever for the hockey team? Granted, this is my freshman year, so perhaps I’ve missed something, but while I heard a lot of, “Hey, Britton, are you going to the football game?” I can’t recall hearing, “Are you going to the hockey game?” And that saddens me.

So as the NHL playoffs continue, I suggest you non-fans watch a game or two. You might enjoy it. And when you do, we can watch the Stars bring home the Stanley Cup together.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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