Hockey: Let the fights..ahem, games begin!

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Opinion articles.
Hockey: Let the fights..ahem, games begin!

Mark J. Lehman
Managing Editor

Originally Published: Wednesday, April 5, 2006


"What? Yeah, I'm at the hockey game!"




"Yeah, we have a hockey team, can you believe that?"

This was only one of probably countless phone conversations having to do with LMU's brand new ice hockey team overheard at Culver Ice Arena last Thursday night as the Lions beat the living daylights out of the USC Trojans in one of the most memorable and entertaining sporting events I've attended during my time at this university.

A brief explanation: for those who are unaware and who missed the article last week in the Loyolan sports section, LMU Ice Hockey has made a comeback this year after a more than 60-year hiatus. Although the season began back in November, all the hard work and dedication of the players culminated in one night of wild, nail-biting, splendidly violent glory -- a glory only hockey can provide.

Let me first add a disclaimer that I am not, nor have I ever been a die-hard ice hockey fan. Sure, I've played my share of ice hockey video games like "Blades of Steel" or any of the Wayne Gretzky games, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen "D2: The Mighty Ducks" more than a couple of times, but I've never been to an actual ice hockey event, and I've never even watched a game in its entirety on television. That said, as of last Thursday, I'm a convert to the religion of the stick and puck.

While most official LMU sports see fans number in the high teens on a regular basis, Thursday's game against USC filled all of the stands at the small ice rink with screaming fans, forcing the rest to crowd around the plexi-glass wall and stand for the entire match, cheering for our boys and jeering at the players on the opposing squad. Maybe it was the SoCal matchup that drew such crowds, or perhaps it was the lack of an entrance fee, but I have my own theory: we like violence.

Think about it. The biggest turnouts at LMU where sporting events are concerned happen at the basketball games, and that's usually only against Pepperdine or when a game is televised, which shows not that we care about basketball, but that we hate Pepperdine and that we're starved for attention. This is nothing against our basketball team, but it's just the nature of the sport-it's not really brutal or violent, and the little bit of hostility that occurs usually is hidden, as to avoid getting called for a foul.

In fact, most sports at LMU are this way -- either they are not inherently filled with aggression and physical contact, such as baseball or volleyball, or the contact is purposely hidden, like in water polo or soccer.

This is why we love hockey. There is no pretense, no hidden agenda, no sneakiness. There is only hitting, and a lot of it. And unlike rugby, which is also violent, most everyone can understand the basic objective of hockey: hit the little round disc in the goal.

LMU Athletics should jump on the hockey bandwagon immediately, because this could be huge. Not only was it the most fun I've had at any sporting event all four years I've been here, but the team beat a supposedly much better USC squad 2-0, and the game ended in a fistfight, with hundreds of fans screaming, yelling and jumping around.

It really doesn't get any better than that.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan:]
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