I’m in Munich over the weekend, watching the German national hockey team compete in the Deutschland-Cup tournament. Hockey is of course ice hockey, for any German reader who might be wondering. But as it’s the only kind of hockey that matters to me, I’ll stick with the english distinctiion between hockey and field hockey.
Until 10 years ago I haven’t been much of a sports fan. Football (soccer) is huge in Germany, but I usually just watched it on TV during the world or european championships. And even than I thought it’s rather dull to watch. Of course I watch summer and winter olympics, but I would never have considered me a fan of any sport or team. That changed when a friend asked me to accompany her to a hockey game in Cologne. She had just become a fan a few month earlier and I thought: ok, it might be interesting enough. We went and saw a 9:0 (or 9:1) victory and had a really great time. The atmosphere was great. Of course, because we had to jump up and celebrate a goal every few minutes ;-) But I basically liked the atmosphere in general. It’s hard to explain for anyone who has never been part of a singing and cheering crowd in any kind of sport arena. And I know some people are just not into being a part of a singing and cheering crowd. I never thought I would be either. But it is fun. Maybe because it meets some basic human needs? Feeling as part of a group or something? I don’t know, but I’m sure there are enough psyological studies about it.
Would I have become a football fan, If I had had my first experience of being part of a fan audience in a sport arena in a football stadium? I don’t know for sure, but I actually doubt it, because I’ve seen football on TV and like I said before, thought it’s rather boring to watch, especially compared to hockey. So, what is so special about hockey? What’s so captivating at a hockey game? Of course there are boring hockey games as well, but even those are in my mind less boring to watch than football game.
Hockey is fast! The hockey rink is smaller than a football pitch and skating is faster than running. The game can shift from defense to attack within seconds, because the playing field is much smaller and it only takes about five seconds to skate from the defense zone to the opposite goal. It’s the same speed as in basketball, which I think is an entertaining sport to watch as well. If someone had taken me to a great basketball game 10 years ago, I might have turned into a basketball fan instead ;-)
Part of my attraction to hockey might also be that it’s a very physical sport and not just in the sense that every sport actually is physical. During a forward move and especially in any defense action hockey players use their body in a more physical way than football or basketball players do. There is more checking and shoving and because they all wear protection gear, checking and shoving is not a big deal. Hockey is rough sport and I have to admit I love watching that. Maybe because I’m not a rough or gruffy person myself and I experience my rough sides vicariously through the players on the ice.
Watching a fast and rough game with thousands of cheering fans obviously very quickly turned me into a hockey fan. Not into someone with the most knowledge, but with a lot of passion. I still don’t know all the details of every rule (some of them keep changing every year in the German league) and I can not always jugde if the referee made the right call or not. But I make that up with the passion of telling the referee, that he sucked *g*
Bro1 has been a hockey fan for more than 20 years and I used to tease him about it until I became a hockey fan myself and a couple of years ago even Bro3 started to go to the games (of Bro1’s team, not mine, but still). My friend and I’ve been to the worldchampionship in Canada last year with Bro1 and his group of hockey friends and I’ve joined them again this weekend for the trip to Munich to see our national team compete. And I’m sure I’m having a great time, while you are reading this post ;-)