Battlegrounds: Hockey vs. soccer


Hockey by Geoff Bokuniewicz

A most glorious achievement of sporting excellence! Ho, what a fantastical pinnacle reached
by our roguish eleven; they have truly earned eternal glory amongst the prior winners of
association football’s greatest competition, the World Cup! Let us watch the boys hoist the
golden chalice and rejoice!

Err, wait a minute, why the heck are they just raising up some oblong, ruddy gold ball with
a lady underneath it? That seriously can’t be the reward for having the best team of soccer
players in the world, can it?

It actually is, and boy what a letdown that must be. I mean, proving yourself at an irrelevant
sport should already be a letdown, but hey, why not give them a trophy to round it out, too?
You see, association football, or soccer, as it’s commonly known here, has been gaining
popularity in the United States in recent years.

Not enough for our athletes to decide to
dominate it–we’re still letting the rest of the world have a little fun, just like we did with every
other sport before we said “okay, that’s enough, let the real athletes take over”–but enough
to make me uncomfortable. It’s like the rise of “Glee,” Communism or rampant filibustering.
Eventually you should call a committee, name some names, and start clamping down on civil

With that said, are we really going to let people continue to play soccer? This country was
founded on the principles of hard work, honest efforts, team play, and sticking up for justice.
None of these characteristics are present in a match of soccer. You know what is present? It’s
flopping, diving, dishonesty, selfish celebrations, verbal spats and total anti-human bias.
The first five in that series are self-explanatory. Watch a soccer game and you will see some
of the most inexcusable instances of gaming the system. It teaches bad morals. I don’t want my
children watching a sport where a person who gets grazed by a stray toe goes down in a heap
of tears and accusations.

I want my children to watch a sport where a person breaks his ankle
and still skates on it, because his teammates are relying on him. I want my children to watch
a sport where there is a capital-c Code–sure, you can dive, like in soccer, but you’ll probably
receive a most vicious beating later, and it will be sanctified by the fraternity of professional

What sport could that be? Hockey, of course. The sport that humans were meant to play,
that is played with more creativity, more skill, more emotion, more intensity, and for a much,
much, much, much, much, much better trophy than anything any soccer league offers. You see,
humans have these things called hands. It’s what helped us evolve bigger brains so we could
create sports and criticize bad sports.

Soccer doesn’t let you use our natural feature–the ability
to make tools. Hockey does. In fact, you are encouraged to use your primary tool (your stick) to
deke, pass, shoot (basically everything a soccer player does but faster, more difficult, and on
skates) or liberally hit other players with it, though if you do, you’re probably going to have to
fight some big mean Canadian guy who smells like sod and sawdust.

And even if you don’t want to play it, you can at least follow and watch it easier and better
than you could with soccer. In soccer, you don’t see the best playing the best consistently.
You might see it once every four years with the World Cup, but the play in that tournament is
so sloppy because it’s so short and it’s not the players’ day job. It’s the nature of international
competition. In soccer’s defense, the Olympics can be the same way in hockey.

But we at least have the National Hockey League. Probably around 95-98 percent of the
world’s best players are in that one league. There’s a salary cap that ensures every team has a
chance to win, and the best players flock to that league, eager to prove themselves.
In soccer, however, there are about four or five “major” leagues, each with their own “major”

There is no salary cap, and, although rules have been proposed to limit spending by
certain teams to have some type of equitable balance, the leagues are generally decided before
the ball is ever kicked off. Manchester United or City or Chelsea or Arsenal are going to win
in England. Barcelona or Real Madrid are going to win in Spain. Bayern in Germany, Celtic or
Rangers in Scotland, ad infinitum.

Now, the best teams of the European leagues do get together
and play each other in the Champion’s League, but not nearly as much as they do in their own
leagues. As such, fans of Manchester United get to watch their team beat up on outmatched
opponents year after year, as opposed to all the best players in the world being part of one
singular entity, like the NHL.

I could keep going here pretty much forever, but my dear friend Scotty John has chosen to
try and fruitlessly argue against the truth. Before he begins, though, here’s a question: if you
needed something done and you had to choose either a soccer or a hockey player…who do you
choose? Who’s got your back? We all know the answer to that.


Soccer by John Robertson

Soccer—the beautiful game, and the only sport in the world to boast a legitimate
world championship outside of the Olympics. Respectively, hockey has the Stanley
Cup, football has the Superbowl, and baseball claims to have the “World” Series;
however, these are not the be all and end all. The victors of these trophies are only
the best in America. Globally, there are counterparts to al of these competitions,
except the World Cup.

The World Cup has the absolute final word on who is the best of the best on the
soccer field. No ifs. No buts. No maybes. There is nothing sloppy about it in the
least. It is the single most enthralling sporting competition on the planet. Please try
and tell all those top professionals who have had the privilege of lifting the Jules
Rimet–the “golden chalice” and the only legitimate world championship trophy in
existence—that it is a let down. To hold that trophy is to prove that you are better
than the 6 billion other people around the world. Every single one of them had a
chance to compete for that cup. Illegitimate? You must be joking, right?

It is the highlight of any professional soccer player’s career. In 2006, about
715 million people watched the World Cup Final. When compared to the 314
million people that live in the United States, it seems rather a high number for an
“irrelevant” sport.

The World Cup is not just a showcase competition where the stars of the game
are bundled together. It is every young boy’s dream to grow up and lift the World
Cup trophy for his country. The World Cup doesn’t just last a month either. There
is two years of qualifying rounds and a playoff to get through before you can even
entertain the idea of the final month-long tournament.

Soccer is one sport that America won’t be able to just bully their way to the top of.
Thank goodness for it too. The Spaniards, the Brazilians, the Argentines, the English,
the French, the Germans, the Dutch all have supreme development programs and
youth systems that are breathtaking. The Americans do not have the expertize nor
the experience to just storm in and clean up. Being the best is not just about having
the best athletes. It takes generations of cultivated youngsters to rise to the top. Just
look at your current men’s national soccer team. What nationality is the US coach
again? That’s right, Jurgen Klinsmann is German. Soccer has been gaining popularity
here in the US recently, and it is a testament to the mental capacity of you guys that
you are finally seeing sense.

It is not a case of American athletes opting out of soccer. Rather, it would seem
they are being forced out. The obsession here with size, speed and strength has
probably meant there have been one or two wee Lionel Messi-esc Americans
who never got picked for their OPD teams when they were adolescents because
they were too small. You can’t bench press to improve natural talent or natural
knowledge of the game. The base level of knowledge of the game just isn’t here in
America yet. Once that comes, the interest will follow shortly on afterwards, and the
puck will be left lonely on the ice. Hockey is living on borrowed time.

At the highest level, there is an element of perfection in every soccer goal scored
because there has to be. It takes a perfect strike, a perfectly timed run, or at least
once piece of perfect technique somewhere in the build-up to create a goal. On the
other hand, most goals in hockey are lucky or sloppy at best. It is just persistent
bullying that leads to most hockey goals, and this is something you get suspended
for the school system.

Given, there is a problem with diving in soccer. It is something that is continually
being addressed and squeezed out of the sport. It sounds like a great idea to
promote hockey. There are actual breaks in hockey for fist-fights. Each team has a
player who couldn’t hit a barn door from ten feet, but is on the payroll because he
scrap. I want my children developing a love for a sport that promotes creativity,
togetherness and freedom. I don’t need another sport promoting brutality. There is
enough of that in the world.

Soccer is the free man’s sport. Hockey is an expensive sport for the privileged
that requires ice and a lot of gear. Soccer needs a ball. Poor to rich, kids everywhere
across this globe are playing soccer. Despite the current notion of soccer being
a “rich kid sport” here in America. All you need is a ball, a couple of sweaters for
goalposts, and people.

The English Premier League is the most competitive league in the world. There
has only been one team, Arsenal, go undefeated in that league since its formation.
Every body can beat everybody else. The level of competition is incredible. The
difference between the NHL and every soccer league in the world is the market.
There might be the best of the best hockey players playing in the NHL, and they are
great at what they do. However, the ripple caused by hockey does not carry around
the globe.

Soccer is more than just a game. It is a lifestyle. It is the world’s game. On every
continent, in every city, on every street, in every village, in every back yard there is
a soccer ball. Speaking the language of soccer is speaking the universal language of
life. Hockey? I don’t think so.

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