7 Reasons Why Hockey is Better Than Soccer

Note: This article was originally published in 2010. It has been revised and updated with two more reasons why hockey is still better than soccer. 

As much as I admire soccer for being the world’s most popular sport, I just can’t get into it. Watching it bores me. Getting out of bed at some early hour to watch the World Cup does not entice me.

Plain and simple, soccer is not as good as hockey. Don’t believe me? I’ll give you five — no, make that seven — reasons why hockey is better than soccer. 

1. Games are Too Long

A soccer game consists of two 45-minute halves. That’s 90 minutes, or 50% longer than a hockey game.

Then consider that the clock keeps running when the play is stopped, so the soccer referee adds additional time to the game. If the game is tied after 90-plus minutes of play, then TWO 15-minute overtimes are played. If it is still tied, then the game goes to a shootout. And if it is tied after that, then the game goes into sudden death overtime.

I guess goals are just THAT hard to come by in soccer. Which leads to my next point.

2. The Score is Always Low

In 90 minutes, you might see one goal during a soccer game. Or you might not. A 2-0 win would be considered a slaughter in soccer, but a close game in hockey.

Both soccer and hockey “purists” will argue that the perfect game would be 0-0, because no mistakes were made. That would be perfectly boring.

The team with the most goals wins, not the team that makes the least amount of mistakes, though there is usually a correlation between the two.

Goals are exiting. The players celebrate, the fans celebrate and memories are made. Fans don’t jump to their feet, cheer and start riots when goals are almost scored, do they?

So, why so few goals in soccer? The net is huge! Maybe the field is too big? Maybe there are too many — or too few — players on said field. Or maybe it is because the game screeches to a halt every time the ball goes out of bounds. Speaking of which…

3. The Ball Always Goes Out of Bounds

I swear, 90% of a soccer match is spent kicking the ball out of bounds, and then throwing or kicking it back into bounds after the stoppage of play. If I wanted to see that many stoppages of play, I’d watch an “American” football game.

Hockey solved this problem a long time ago. There are boards and glass, keeping the puck in bounds and the play moving. Could you imagine hockey if there were no boards to keep the puck in play? Dreadful. The boards became an integral strategy in the game too, such as bouncing the puck off the boards to a teammate or shooting it around the boards on a clear attempt.

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Adding boards to the soccer field — like the Men’s Indoor Soccer League did in the 1980s and 1990s — would speed up the game and allow new and exciting plays to become a part of the sport.

But nope! Instead, we get like 47 throw-ins, corner kicks and other preventable stoppages of play per game because soccer gonna soccer. 

4. Hockey Has Way Cooler Goalies

Soccer goalies wear gloves (because the ball is slippery?), long sleeves (because grass is slippery?) and brightly-colored shirts that differ from their teammates. I can understand the gloves. But the long sleeves? That must be in case the goalie has to dive to catch the ball — there might be some BUGS in the grass.

Unlike their soccer counterparts, hockey goalies don the same jersey as their brothers. They don’t need a specially-colored shirt that says “I’m the goalie” because they are wearing freaking masks and armor to protect themselves from pucks flying at 95 miles per hour. A soccer goalie stops a soccer ball. A hockey goalie is ready for combat.

5. The “Red Card / Yellow Card” Thing

When a soccer player does something naughty, he is issued a  yellow card  by the referee. A stern warning, if you will. He might even get sent to bed without supper. or receive an angry letter from Hans Blix. Of course, getting a  red card  will get him ejected from the game. So I have to ask, do they get a  gold star  when they do something good?

But when a hockey player does something bad, he gets sent to the penalty box and feels shame for two minutes. Sometimes he doesn’t feel shame. If his crime draws blood, well, then that’s a five-minute penalty. If one drew blood in a soccer game, they’d probably receive a lifetime ban by FIFA.

Perhaps soccer is the more civilized sport. Or is that “sissified?”

6. The Jerseys are Plastered in Ads

Quick – name the soccer team shown above.

If you said “The Acura,” I would not think you were wrong. I would also have accepted “The Acuras” or “Adidas Acuras” as answers.

Soccer jerseys suck because they are emblazoned in a giant advertisement, right where a team logo should go. It is for this very same reason why I don’t own any European hockey jerseys; I don’t feel like shilling for Toyota or Sony or whatever.

For argument’s sake, here are a few Major League Soccer jerseys. The red one is for the Chicago Fire, while the blue one is for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Now, who are you really showing loyalty to by wearing one of these “beauties” — your local pro soccer team, or some faceless corporate entity? Do I really want to be a walking billboard for Valspar paints or whatever Herbalife Nutrition sells? The Galaxy actually have a pretty cool logo. Too bad the Galaxy logo is really just an afterthought on a Galaxy jersey. 

That said, I never ever heard of Hearbalife Nutrition until I saw it on a Galaxy soccer jersey. Well played, Herbalife Nutrition.

Still, you can’t even compare a Manchester United jersey, with its giant Chevy logo, to a Montreal Canadiens jersey. and its beautiful CH crest. One instantly reminds me of hockey, while the other reminds me of NASCAR. 

7. Players Embarrassingly Flop Around

If you just look at a soccer player too harshly, he will fall on his ass, writhe around on the ground, and grab his face, hoping that the referee will call a penalty. It’s a one-man show, sometimes a comedy, but always a tragedy. 

Hockey players block shots and nary miss a shift. Hockey players will punch each other in the face, sit for five minutes, then go back out to play. Hockey players get slashed, speared, hooked and tripped, but soldier on — or retaliate and get even. And while Sidney Crosby may complain to the refs more often than not, he doesn’t imitate a breakdancing inchworm every time an opponent’s stick comes near his ankles. 

Are hockey players invincible? Hell no. They get hurt too, but it usually takes more than incidental contact or almost touching them to get one to fall down.  

But I swear, breathe too hard on a soccer player, he will fall down and start crying, in an effort to get the other player that little, specially-colored piece of cardboard. 

That said, if I could do it all over again, I’d be a soccer player.

Seriously.

Even though I’m a huge hockey fan, my chunky legs and lack of upper-body strength would have suited me well to play “football,” as non-Americans rightly call it. I’d be the world’s best soccer player, and the world’s worst soccer spectator. 

This article was originally published on July 4, 2010 as “5 Reasons Why Hockey is Better than Soccer.”

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

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Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

18 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why Hockey is Better Than Soccer”

  1. I can see your points, except the first one.
    Even if (and it's rare) that a soccer game goes to extra time AND even penalty kicks, the game is still over in 2 and 1/2 hours. Hockey games go over that 98% of the time. The main problem with hockey is that the games are too long. a 60 minute game takes 3 hours??? Ludicrous. Play for 20 minutes (of whcih a player may play maybe 5 or 6 minutes of) and then take a 12 minute break?

    wussies.

  2. There are fundimental problems with your argument –

    1. water does not freeze naturally in 50 % of the world. You would not get the African nations behind you if your team went out of the tournament.

    2. the costs of playing hockey are expensive for most of the world – that's alot of equipment to buy … plus it sucks when its 85 degrees outside and sunny, who wants to be inside ?

    3. hockey is even harder to understand than soccer, blue line, red line, crease … what the hell is that about ?

    4. hockey arenas max capicity about 20,000 … soccer stadium max capacity … about 100,000 …

    bigger party, bigger following.

    I like hockey, but it only comes a distant second to the world's game.

    I have a hard time getting excited about hockey in the summer months they play the finals … besides, if you listen to the interviews from the hockey world – guess what their watching ? yup – world cup soccer.

    You might be alone in your sentiments, but I repsect you right to your opinion.

  3. I play both hockey and soccer and don't really prefer one to the other.

    As a Bruins fan, a 2-0 win might be viewed as an offensive onslaught, just as in soccer.

    What I like most about soccer is that it is continuous. There is something to be said about watching a sport straight through with no real stoppages and best of all, NO COMMERCIALS!

  4. Chuck, all good points. Maybe you should write a counterpoint article 🙂

    All kidding aside, I have lot of respect for soccer. And I was sincere when I said that if I could do life all over again, I would have played soccer instead of hockey.

  5. Thanks Sal,

    I love passion in almost all sports (draw the line at nascar and wrestling) …

    mine happens to be soccer. I love the international taste that hockey has acquired. When I'm not following THE football, hockey gets me through.

    cheers

    PS – I do write about soccer … you can see some of my articles at WORLD CUP BUZZ.com

  6. Being the one in the room with a Manchester United jersey in the room, I am taking it upon myself to throw some numbers at you.

    First lets compare sizes:
    On the top end, football pitches are 120m x 50m.

    Hockey rinks are 60m x 25m.

    Winner: Soccer. (You can play 2 hockey games at once on a football pitch)

    Game times:

    Football: 2 x 45 minute halves + penalty time(2 min minimum) then 2 x 15 minute halves in the case of a tie. (Only for cup/finals matches) + Shoot out (last case)

    Hockey: 3 x 20 minute "quarters" + as many 20 minute extra quarters as it takes for someone to score (depending on the tie breaker)

    Winner: Negotiable. Football games will never go over (approx) 2 hours. Hockey could be over in an hour, but it could very well run much much longer.

    As per the "not much happens" in a football match; each action seems much grander because of the size of the pitch. Very few people have the time, or the strength to send a ball full pitch(and when they do, odds are it is the goalkeeper). In a hockey game anyone person can send the puck from end to end, and the ice aids in it getting there(one nudge could send it all the way)

    Granted hockey has a higher percentage of "tense" moments, but I'd argue that football has longer of these moments. If the ball spends 2-3 minutes in your teams half…everything seems to run in slow motion.

    I can't comment to heavily on the "1 goal" portion of football, as any sport can have the 1 goal wins the game. It is more about how the goals or scored than the tally at the end of the match.

    As for hockey goalies > football goalkeepers I would STRONGLY disagree. Football goalkeepers have to move distances to throw themselves at balls that may be traveling upwards of 40 miles per hour (I'm being generous as I've only found stats on the fastest kick – approx 80+ miles per hour), with no pads on. Your hockey goalies sits in a box, roughly his size, fully decked out in the best pads the teams money and hockey regulations allow.

    Lastly, I'll touch on penalties. Football doesn't make a point of making its players sit in the proverbial corner for what they did. You did something unsportsmanlike? You get a card, and the entire game is extended by x seconds/minutes to make up for your action. You are a little to rowdy, or do something only a total jerk would do (slide tackle from behind), you are out for the rest of the game and your entire team is -1 man on the pitch the rest of the game. Hockey gives 2 minutes (correct me if I'm wrong) for power plays, then puts the man back on, and the game rolls on. I guess that might be a better way of doing it, but seems more like a slap on the wrist and a time out.
    (Also football refs calls are final. They can't be refuted, and arguments with a ref, or comments about them can lead to huge fines, and game bans. Final = final.)

    Feel free to point out any errors in my above post, as I'm not a hockey fan by any means.

  7. I like both soccer and hockey, however I think it's a bit unfair to make any comparisons between hockey and FIFA World Cup. Yes, soccer is boring, but I'd rather watch one match from Bundesliga than any match from 1998-99 Stanley Cup finals. And after FoxTrax I almost quit watching hockey.

    I can see your points and I agree with most of them. But before you call something "sissified" you should google Jimmy Bullard, Aaron Ramsey, Roy Keane and Les Ferdinand, for a start…

    BTW, I'm very excited about the first Finnish Winter Classic tomorrow :D. Wouldn't change it for a single soccer game.

  8. I do not agree with any of your points. Goals in hockey are scored more often than soccer goals, but the scores are not that different. Many hockey games are only 2-0 and 1-0 and many soccer games can be 5-4. The scores always vary. This is because soccer is a longer game, but goals are also much more exciting in soccer. It adds to the energy of the game much more than it does on hockey. Also, the ball rarely even goes out of bounds, and it is thrown in quickly and there are no pointless commercial brakes in a world cup game because the clock never stops. This makes the game much more interesting. Lastly, hockey goalies are no less manly than soccer goalies. The goalies sleeves usually have pads so they don’t hurt there arms, and the goalies have to defend a MUCH larger goal. The ball is also kicked from short range at 70 miles an hour, making soccer goalies even more athletic than hockey goalies. Soccer players have to run for 90 minutes at a time and perform ridiculously challenging skills. You can’t say they are any less amazing than hockey players.

      1. soccer goalies have no armor, they can move around easier. also, the field is bigger, so it takes longer to move the ball from end to end.

  9. Well the debate will continue as long as both sports are played and many of the points from both sides are valid (and some I will make here are already in the comments), but here are some counter points:

    Soccer is a 90 minute game that is over in 2 hours. A 60 minute NHL game can easily take 3 hours with all the commercial stoppages (yes, a commercial break on TV is a good reason to delay a hockey game for 5 minutes. Positively irritating for the fans that paid for tickets and non-existent in soccer.)

    The score is not too low and it is decisive. When you watch an NBA game the score might finish 102 to 98. When you round it it’s 100-100 or 1-1. But everyone loves the high scoring. Same with football (American). Sure 28-21 sounds decisive but rounded to soccer that’s 4-3. Hockey scoring is more decisive so we can’t really fault hockey here, hockey scores are as decisive as soccer scores but not better.

    “The ball always goes out of bounds”. True it goes out of bounds a lot but it is also a really big field and many of the players throwing it back in can achieve distances that are on par with what the average NHL pass looks like. Not the maximum of course, throwing style is limited and the ball is round, but average. Many Soccer players can throw the ball 30 yards (on meters). And in soccer every player is a quarterback whether throwing or by kicking.

    On goalies, soccer goalies are way more cool. They defend a much larger net without pads that cover half of it up. Plus they can also play outside the crease and kick the ball way up the field contributing to offense. Hockey goalies aren’t even allowed across the center line whereas in theory a soccer goalie can go anywhere so long as they act as a regular player outside the crease. Which they regularly do since they aren’t carrying 50 pounds of extra equipment and skates that don’t have edges.

    About the card thing I don’t know that it’s decisive. All sports need a disciplinary framework. In Arena soccer (indoor with boards) they do use penalties very much like hockey and in Rugby cards are associated with time outs as well. But in soccer the results are much more severe. A red card or 2 yellows for the same player in a game result in an ejection and playing short the rest of the game. This may be why you don’t see as much fighting.

    So and the 6th reason soccer beats hockey, if you came to see your favorite player he’s probably on the field 90-100% of the game. Your favorite hockey player will seldom see 50%.

  10. I agree that having boards in hockey helps make the game go by a lot faster and keeps it interesting throughout the whole time. It also allows the fans to sit and observe the game from close up. I think that any game that you love to play is something you should keep playing.

  11. Just want to say that if you don’t like jersey ads–and I don’t any more than you do–don’t look at European hockey sweaters!

  12. Maybe in the 1980’s hockey had way more goals than soccer. These days soccer goals are up and hockey goals are down so a lot of games have similar 3-1 type scores. I like hockey but it will never come anywhere close to the popularity of soccer.

  13. I would call this accurate based on experience. The pace in hockey makes it far more entertaining and easy to enjoy as well with less stoppages. I won’t even begin to elaborate on the flopping and diving that pollutes the game either.

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