Stuck in the Stands

To this day, I have yet to play actually ice-hockey. The closest I have ever came to professional ice-hockey is going to the ice-skating rink with my 7 year old cousin. Although a much softer form of the sport, it was still rough. After going ice-skating about 4 or 5 times in my whole life, I caught on to it and learned how to ice-skate. I would call myself the beginner of beginners, which in essence means that it is almost impossible for me to skate freely for about 5 minutes until I fall or crash into children. It was then, right when I saw a full ice-hockey game with my friend Dan, when I realized how hard the sport actually is. Not only are you ice-skating, but you are going head-to-head with beasts that are moving at speeds that could dent a car bumper if crashed into. Not only that, but players constantly checking and tackling each other while managing to stay on both feet. Then I thought back to my last blog post and thought to myself, “Imagine boxing, on ice, wearing ice-skates.”

After putting all the pieces together, I came to the realization that I was never going to be able to play ice-hockey. Although I couldn’t actually play, I was able to observe first hand. Luckily for me, two brothers in my fraternity both play on the UCSD ice-hockey team. This was my only shot at watching an actual game! The guys had a two game road-trip last week in Chapman and Cal State Northridge. So on the 7th on February, I drove to Chapman with a few Fraternity buddies, including Daniel, to watch my first real-life hockey game.

To be honest, I came in with really high expectations. To be even more honest, I was looking for a fight being that my project is centered around how controlled violence in sports serves as a form of entertainment to an audience. The game was very similar to what I had seen on TV, except everyone was much shorter and did not have full-beards. The attire, referees, game-play, and crowd were very similar to that of the NHL. When the game started, one of the linesmen gathered one person from each team to the center of the rink (6 players on a team) to begin the face-off. I learned that the face-off is when the two opposing hockey players fight for possession of the puck dropped by the referee. Once that happened, the game commenced. I was having a great time, but eventually looked up and realized that their wasn’t that big of an audience. That was the biggest bummer because on TV, hockey stadiums are filled to the tee with loud fans. I didn’t let it phase me because I had never seen a live game before. I did notice that players actually checked each other, but in a very sportsman-like way that was much softer than more intense and rough checks in the NHL. I can say one of the most exciting parts of the game was watching UCSD score 6 goals and allowing only 1 from the opponent. Not only that, one of our players got a 5 minute time-out for checking a player too hard.

I came to the conclusion that from a first eye experience, violence does actually serve as entertainment. I jumped up when a player checked someone. I don’t know how proud of myself I am for that, but it was definitely a sight to see. Because my ice-skating skills are sub-par, I thought up the idea to try field hockey sometime. Field hockey is not on ice, but carries the same logistics and rules as ice-hockey. Cheers to the future!

UCSD Hockey

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One Response to Stuck in the Stands

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I’m glad you got to see your first ice hockey game. I still remember my own shock at the checking when I first saw an ice hockey game. To me, it was almost as if I could feel the force of the impact. I’m intrigued by your reference to the checks as “sportsman-like.” These different valences of violence in the game may be worth thinking about in greater depth, as are fan reactions and desires to see violence.

    The gap between our own abilities and that of experienced athletes can often feel overwhelming, as your experience demonstrates. But hey, you never know! You have a lot of years ahead of you. There’s another student in the class doing field hockey; you may be interested to chat with her and read those blog posts.

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