Well, the results are in: With one vote (One? Really? Come on, people. You can do better than that.), the winner is a hockey article. This, thankfully, is timely with the NHL All-Star Game currently being played out in Ottawa, Canada.
So, the question becomes: Does anyone care?
Let’s do some comparisons, first of all. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL (as well as MLS, but soccer? People care even less about that) all host All-Star events during their respective seasons, to varying degrees of success. Players from the league are selected by fan vote, coaches’ choices, and by the players themselves, and there’s some sort of division between teams. In all but the baseball version, the winner of the game does not affect the course of the current season. In baseball, the winning league (National or American) receives home-field advantage in the seven-game World Series at the end of the season. So there, at least, there’s a point to the game other than “Look at us! We get paid millions of dollars to play a game and now we won a popularity contest on top of it!”
The National Hockey League’s All-Star game was so pointless, they decided last year to change the format to a “fantasy draft” where team captains were named and those captains got to pick their teammates from a pool of available players. If this is sounding like playground dodgeball to you (and bringing back all those horrible, horrible memories associated with such) then you’re a reasoning, thinking human being because that’s EXACTLY WHAT IT’S LIKE.
So let’s get back on point. The National Hockey League has teams all across America (including Phoenix, Tampa, and Dallas) as well as the great state of Canada. Wait, what? Canada’s not a state? Why the hell is it called the “National” Hockey League, then?
Canadians developed the sport. A Canadian team (The Montreal Canadiens) currently holds the record for number of championships. Only 23% of professional hockey players are from the United States. Why not call it the Canadian Hockey League But We Allow The Yankees To Play To Make More Money (CHLBWAYTPTM3)?
Following the 2004-2005 NHL labor lockout, the rules for actually winning a hockey game were changed to eliminate ties and increase scoring. Why? Because Americans like scoring! They like winning! The same problem plagues soccer: nobody wants to watch a 0-0 tie after two hours. The addition of the “shootout” to determine a tie game (following the overtime period) was supposed to increase suspense and audience enjoyment, thus increasing television revenue.
Speaking of television revenue, when was the last time you watched hockey on TV? It’s almost impossible to follow the action, because it’s a 4-inch disc flying around at high speed. It’s like following a cracked-out squirrel from 100 yards away. High-definition television’s widespread use has impacted the NHL’s success more than any other sport (according to this article) because it makes it EASIER TO KNOW WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
Even if you can see the stupid thing, then what? Can you tell an icing call when you see it? Do you know where the goalie’s box is?
[WARNING: MADE-UP STATISTICS AHEAD]
We here at Three Yards would venture to say that 7 out of every 10 Americans know what a false start penalty in American football is. The guy moves before he’s supposed to. The drunken idiot in the nosebleed seats can see it, usually before the referee does. The flip side of that coin is that no one, not even Canadians, completely understands what constitutes an offsides call. There’s even a Wikipedia page for it.
[END MADE-UP STATISTICS]
Granted, there’s some of what Americans treasure about sports in hockey:
But honestly? Football gives that, plus people actually know what the hell they’re watching.
To sum up:
1. Not enough Americans play hockey.
2. Watching hockey on TV is miserable.
3. Watching hockey is confusing at best without an “Aboot Hockey Degree” from Mountie University.
4. Football is better.
At this point, readers, I’m sure you’re all up in arms about perceived “inconsistencies” and “He’s FUCKING WRONG, eh?” and that’s fine. We like to engender discussion one way or another.