The Magic of NHL Hockey: Why It Is an Artform

Tyler DeelContributor IJune 11, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09:  Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks hoists the Stanley Cup after teammate Patrick Kane #88 scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 and win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Sports are very influential in today's world and media. Football, baseball and basketball are the big three here in America, alongside other sports that not as many people watch; tennis, soccer and hockey.

All of the above are great sports, but there is just something about hockey. Hockey isn't just a game or another sport for viewing pleasure. There is something about hockey that makes me want to call it not just a sport, but a form of art.

First off, let's define a sport. According to Merriam Webster, a sport is an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature. Second, what is art? Art is defined as the quality, production, expression or realm according to aesthetic principles of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

Hockey is most definitely a sport and an art form, according to the above definitions. A hockey player will often go through bone-crushing, teeth-rattling hits that test not only their strength to keep skating, but their mental ability to get back up and brush it off.

Hockey is very competitive, and the Stanley Cup is one of the most well known trophies. People who never watch hockey will tell you what the Stanley Cup is. Each player lives for the chance to get his name engraved in the large silver cup.

Unfortunately for most people, only one team out of the 30 gets to hoist the cup each year. Most recently the Blackhawks won, as Patrick Kane sneaked the puck in between Micheal Leighton's legs in overtime.

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So, hockey is a sport. But what makes it something more than just guys pounding each other over a shiny trophy?

A lot actually.

Whether you watch a game from home, or watch from the crowd, you won't regret it. Hockey is much better live; the crowd has an energetic aura all night, as the players skate up and down the ice.

When you first walk into Nationwide Arena and take your seat, you see an undisturbed layer of ice, still donning the sheen left by the Zamboni. Later, players will come out and warm up. Then comes the National Anthem, sometimes followed by O Canada.

This is the part when the magic truly begins; where hockey is separated from other sports. Five guys and a goalie take the ice, skates carving into the surface. The opening faceoff is dropped, and the game starts.

Hockey is an action-packed game. Once the action starts, it doesn't stop unless a rule is broken or a goal is scored. Plays unfold as the puck is driven down the ice; there is no set playbook like football. Players skate up and down the length of the ice, playing both defense and offense; no breaks in between plays.

Each play has the opportunity to be the game winner and to light the red lamp, which seems to also light up the crowd. Electricity seems to rush across, and people enthusiastically give high fives to people standing nearby, whether they know them or not.

Every few years, there comes along a player, like Sid “The Kid” Crosby, who makes the game even more magical. Like stated previously, plays unfold as the game goes on. Most goals are scored on beautiful dekes and improvisations; shots between the legs, spin-o-ramas and diving shots, just to name a few.

Sometimes the game ends in a tie. When that happens, a five minute overtime, in which the first goal scored wins it. Even still, some games don't end here. Then they go into a shootout, just the goalie and a skater.

At this point, the entire crowd is on their feet. No one is quiet, or sitting. Hearts are racing, as the first shooter jumps over the boards. The referee blows his whistle, and the shooter skates down the ice. At this point, the game most definitely becomes a form of art. The shooter has to make something up to fake out the goalie, who has no distractions; no screens, no players bumping into him, no sudden passes to the open side of the net. Seriously, just watch some clips sometime.

It's sad that hockey seems to be stuck playing second fiddle to basketball. Basketball season overlaps with hockey season. With scoring chances coming in basketball every 10 to 20 seconds, you really don't need to watch the entire game. In hockey, however, if you blink, or go to concessions to get a hot dog, you'll probably miss something. Odds are one in eighteen that you'll witness a hat trick, one of the most magical things to happen in hockey.

Let's recap. Hockey: Physical and competitive, just like every other sport. But again, there is just something more than that. The action is non stop. Improvisation is a great skill to have in pulling off beautiful shots—shots that require great skill to pull off. This game is more than just a game. It is magical and electrifying. Memories are created on the ice late in the third period as large cuts have been created by skate blades digging into the ice.

Hockey is almost like a movie, something that could be scripted. Unfortunately for the movie industry, if hockey was scripted, it would never look this good.