I am not saying it is all hockey fans. I am not even saying it is most. However, come this time of year you will undoubtedly see many fans of the sport arguing on behalf of its' credentials. Far too often there are tweets and facebook updates about how hockey players are so much tougher than players in the other professional sports. Memes discrediting aspects of the other major sports in part to justify their love for hockey become common place. Maybe a picture of Steven Stamkos taking a slapshot to the face only to return later in the game. Maybe a picture making light of LeBron James being carried off due to cramps. Possibly a tweet about diving in soccer or lingering turf toe injuries in football. Is there some accuracy to these claims? Possibly. I just fundamentally don't understand why they are necessary.
The only logical thing I can think is that hockey fans feel that more people should love the sport they love so much. Personally, I consider myself a sports fan. Mostly a hockey, football, and basketball fan, but I can appreciate what each professional sport entails athletically. I don't need other people to love hockey like I do, I watch it because I enjoy watching it. Most people aren't exposed to hockey as much growing up. Whether that be because of popularity, or financial restrictions, or just general disinterest. Can someone explain to me how degrading the toughness of other professional athletes helps advance hockey in anyway? The truth is it doesn't, and it makes those people that do it look like uncultured assholes.
The fact is that every single sport requires a very specific skill set. In general, basketball and football require a much higher level of overall athleticism. If you can't see that you are being objectively blind. The running and jumping required in those sports are otherworldly. The fact that basketball players can jump out of the gym and you have football players running 4.3 40 yard dashes is insane. Hockey, on the other hand, requires a very different skill set. Hand-eye coordination, body control, and yes, a certain degree of toughness. However, all these athletes perform at the top of their craft and deservingly so. If a hockey fan can't appreciate another sport for what it is, it is their loss, not of detriment to the sport.
If hockey fans really want to get upset about the toughness of other sports they are going to have to look within as well. Go watch an NHL game from 1995, the sport was extremely tougher than it is now. That is for a variety of reasons. Whether it be the focus on punishing head shots, the changes to increase scoring chances, or an increase in players diving. If we are speaking solely on toughness, the sport has been watered down. Part of that is dependent on player safety and also maximizing the profit and interest in the sport, but it doesn't make it less true.
I have grown up playing hockey. I play the game like an idiot, and put my general well being on the line more often than I should. It is a sport that requires a high amount of toughness. Generally speaking, hockey players are nut cases. It's something that is engrained in us from the first time we lace up the skates. It's admirable, even semi expected, for a player like Patrice Bergeron to play with a partially torn lung and broken ribs. That doesn't mean it's feasible for a basketball or football player to be out there on a bad ankle.
Comparing hockey to soccer, or basketball, or football is completely nonsensical. It's apples to oranges. Just enjoy each sport for what it is. If you can't do that then don't watch, because all those athletes whose resiliency is in question are lightyears tougher than the people questioning it.
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