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.
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 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.
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.