As far as sports are concerned, I am a hockey fan first and foremost. I maintain an abusive relationship with the Calgary Flames despite their perennial failure to make the playoffs. NHL 14 is one of my favourite video games. While I am not a naturally gifted athlete by any means, I am learning to skate so I can one day play hockey on ice. I love hockey, for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't mean I view hockey as the world's master sport, superior to every other form of athletic activity. Others, however, don't seem to respect all sports for what they are.
In the Feb. 6 issue of the Gauntlet, there was an article published called “If figure skating were easy, it would be called hockey.”
This comically inflammatory title compelled me to verify that it did not, in fact, belong in the Academic Probation section. However, the article in question was indeed a serious opinion piece. It is also a symptom of a less-than-respectful trend — the tendency of people who enjoy one sport to make fun of others.
As I mentioned, I am a passionate hockey fan. However, I think figure skating is extremely impressive as well. It’s astounding to see men and women alike perform athletic jumps, axels and turns, manoeuvring not upon their feet, but upon a pair of knife edges. Figure skaters may look dainty and delicate, but that’s because of how well they control their bodies.
The author of the article in question claimed that hockey “does not require the same diligence and persistence” as figure skating. I wonder if she has ever watched an actual professional hockey game. Does she believe it is easy to take body checks from men weighing over 200 pounds traveling at high speeds? Does reading the play and making a split-second decision to score or prevent a goal not require diligence? Doesn’t having to skate with not only grace, but speed and power, demand persistent practice? For that matter, how easy it is to flex a proper hockey stick, let alone shoot like a pro?
Defending hockey is natural for someone such as myself, but ultimately, personal appreciation is not a factor here. For example, it is not right for hockey fans to make fun of soccer or basketball, just because those sports do not involve contact. So what? Soccer players require a tremendous amount of stamina and precision, and basketball players a high level of technical skill because they cannot simply hit people. Acquiring the kind of specialized skill set needed to effectively play any sport, be it ice hockey, figure skating, rugby or golf, takes enormous dedication and more than a little bit of natural aptitude.
There is strength and talent in every single form of athletic activity. In the spirit of this Olympic season, remember: to belittle one sport in favour of another is never justified.