I've been ice skating before and the results were not pretty. I’m not what you would say, Tara Lipinski-like out there. I can't even go around the rink once without using the wall as a crutch.
So, how a hockey player flies around a rink trying to control a puck is beyond me. Then having to fend off a fellow player going just as fast as he is, that just takes the cake.
I'm a soccer player, I use my feet all the time, but I'm not very nimble; especially when I'm on tiny blades gliding across a slippery surface.
For me, hockey is the most demanding sport physically. I've got everlasting respect for anyone who plays the sport.
Let's be honest, what other sport has the athletes that hockey has?
As a whole, I respect any athlete because, much to my dismay, I will never be one. But, when it comes to which sport has the superior athlete, it has to be the people playing hockey.
You can rule out a sport like golf, considering Tiger Woods is probably the only one in the sort of shape that would allow him to play another sport. Anyone can be a golfer if they practice enough.
I won't go into the NASCAR debate, but I consider a race car driver an athlete; they still need to keep very good care of themselves.
Basketball players must always be in great shape, and let's face it; they have some of the best athletes in the entire world. But, it is also a sport that relies mostly on skill.
Being a soccer player, I know how physically fit you need to be, especially the professionals who play an entire game. 45 straight minutes is an endurance test that is for sure. Not to mention they get very little rest before they have to play another 45 minutes of even more demanding soccer.
Baseball players are in a similar boat as golfers. The separating factor is that you need the right skills to play the game. However, while there are plenty of guys who could probably play another sport, a majority doesn’t need to put their physical tools on display.
Curt Schilling would be a perfect example. Now, Schilling is far from a couch potato, but if you saw him on the street, the last thing you would think he would be is a professional athlete.
You can exclude guys like Joe Mauer and Grady Sizemore (both college quarterback recruits), but as a whole Baseball simply doesn't match up to the others.
Football would probably be one sport that could give hockey a run for its money.
One of the factors for me that has a lot of impact in my opinion is the physical aspect.
Both football and hockey are full contact. The athletes are constantly getting smacked to the ground, or smashed into walls. I also fully believe hockey players take more of a beating than football players do. Most players are not getting hit every play, and what other sport has 300 plus pound men in it?
Some guys are in outstanding shape, but as a whole, I don't think it matches up to the combination that hockey players must have.
Looking at some of their athletes, especially a guy like Penguins' forward Gary Roberts who is still playing the game at the age of 42, I can only be enamored. I've read plenty of Pittsburgh players saying how great of shape Roberts is in.
You need to be in your best shape. Because, in my mind it takes a lot more to creative movement with skates than it does to actually run.
You add all these factors together. The physical toll on your body, the complication of adding an unnatural surface, and all the things that goes into being a hockey player.
I tip my hat to the Gary Roberts-es of the world. I could never do it, and never would do it. Those guys take a beating, and they have to keep themselves in tip-top shape in addition to that. Baseball is my favorite sport, but I have no greater appreciation for the fine people that play hockey.