With the Euro Championships and the Stanley Cup finals both underway, this seemed like a good time to pit the two sports against each other using the ‘tale of the tape’ format – the one thing of value that boxing has given the world. But enough about boxing (seriously, people – enough about boxing!); we’re talking soccer vs. hockey, and it breaks down like this:
Soccer: Referees reward divers by issuing yellow cards with abandon and routinely miss major calls which, once made, cannot be reversed.
Hockey: Referees can by fooled by diving players or swayed by outraged crowds, but also make the occasional unsportsmanlike conduct call when a dive is obvious enough. Most bad calls can’t be reversed, but each and every goal is reviewed before making its way to the scorecard.
Soccer: Some of the broadcasters have Scottish burrs.
Hockey: None of the broadcasters have Scottish burrs.
Soccer: The net is huge, the ball is a reasonable size, the shots on goal totals are always miniscule. The goaltender spends much more time playing the ball up to his teammates than he does making saves. Known in common parlance as a “keeper.”
Hockey: The net is small, the puck is tiny, the shots on goal totals are high enough to keep the goaltender busy. He spends most of his time cutting down angles and making saves; if he plays the puck more than a few times a game he’s more likely to hurt his team than to help it (a rule of thumb that applies to all but a small handful of goaltenders). Known in common parlance as a “goalie.”
Soccer: Attend games decked out in traditional national garb and/or crazy hats; sing and chant throughout the game; travel great distances to foreign lands to watch their teams compete.
Hockey: Attend games in jeans and team jerseys; clap when the scoreboard tells them to; would go to more games if it weren’t for the traffic.
Soccer: Virtually none.
Hockey: Just enough.
Soccer: Round robin games can end in ties; elimination games are decided in OT or, if necessary, shootouts.
Hockey: Regular season games are decided in OT or, if necessary, shootouts; playoff games are decided in overtime, no matter how much time that takes.
Soccer: Eh, they’re alright.
Hockey: Eh, they’re alright.
Advantage: Hockey, because you can tell which team the goaltender plays for.
Soccer: The big prize is the World Cup title, which is up for grabs every 4 years. In between there are a bunch of qualifying tournaments that, frankly, seem like more trouble than they’re worth.
Hockey: The big prize is the Stanley Cup. Your team didn’t win it? There’s always next year!
Soccer: A player is expected – nay, required – to dive every time a opponent gets within 2 feet of him.
Hockey: Diving, while on the rise, is still considered shameful. Players who engage in the practice are ridiculed by fans, media types and opponents alike.
Advantage: If you need to ask, then soccer is the only sport for you. And maybe boxing.