International soccer vs. NHL hockey: Tale of the tape

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.

Advantage: Hockey.


Soccer: Some of the broadcasters have Scottish burrs.

Hockey: None of the broadcasters have Scottish burrs.

Advantage: Soccer.


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.”

Advantage: Hockey.


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.

Advantage: Soccer.


Soccer: Virtually none.

Hockey: Just enough.

Advantage: Hockey.


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.

Advantage: Hockey.


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!

Advantage: Hockey.


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.

12 thoughts on “International soccer vs. NHL hockey: Tale of the tape

  1. Soccer players can be carded for obvious dives. They just do it anyway.

    I love, love, love watching soccer, however diving is the one thing that I wish there were less of. So I’ll give you that one.

    Oh, and I love a soccer uniforms. Thighs are nice, as are knee socks.

    • You forgot to compare possession of teeth.

      Wait, I’ve somehow veered from the sport to the player. Maybe I just like soccer players better. I did marry one.

  2. In Soccer it is a goalkeeper and they are known as either a goalie or a keeper. I know this because I played keeper for many years and there are many, many games that I had to do a lot of work. The work of the goalie also needs to factor in the size of the field and the amount of people that are on the field, that also need to work.
    There is also the fact that the sheer speed of a puck on ice vs a soccer ball on grass means that to get from one goal end to another it is much harder on a soccer field.

    You can’t actually compare the World Cup with the Stanley Cup because essentially the NHL is a domestic league and people can be traded and what not, the World Cup is for the National Teams and require you to be qualified to play for that country by being that nationality.
    There are also other major soccer competitions, such as the English Premier League, which is every year and the FA Cup which is for the European teams.
    Plus, every country has their own domestic league- Australia has the A-League, USA/Canada have the MLS, the English Premier League, France has Ligue 1, Spain has La Liga and Germany has Bundesliga. I don’t know much about the South American leagues but there would be there some too.

    However, these are all domestic leagues, they have nothing on the international competition where country pride is on the level. It is one of those things where one of the greatest honours is to play for your country and win the world cup for the entire country. Hockey don’t so much care about International competitions.
    However, the fact there are all these qualifying rounds to make into the World Cup, just show how many countries want to get there and are actively trying to make into a spot in the world cup. The world cup has 32 teams and have seen way more eliminated, so that they are 32 highly competitive teams in the cup and it is competitive, people have been shot for failing to perform. I think they were Argentinian.
    I like Hockey, I really do, but you can’t compare the FIFA World Cup to the Stanley Cup, in fact, it just makes me think that you are a bitter American that can’t succeed at the World Game (Soccer, biggest sport in the world) and thus, have gone in hating and hating is what the outcome.

    I’ve also been informed that fans do not like the diving, and will boo people on their team if they do dive. As an Australian we hate diving, ever since the 2006 World Cup where an Italian player dived in the box in the dying minutes and got a penalty shot, thus winning the game and advancing them to the next round.
    You can also get yellow carded for diving.

    Oh! Hey! Talking about Referees missing calls… Isn’t there a high sticking from the 1993 playoffs that Kerry Fraser missed and thus lost the Leafs the game or something that as a Leaf fan I’m obligated to be bitter about?

    • – My bad on the “tender” vs. “keeper” issue. Fixed above.
      – I’m comparing international soccer vs. NHL hockey because those are the events happening (and getting major play on American television) right now. Of course the professional leagues in soccer are different, which is why I specified that I’m talking about international soccer.

  3. I played soccer for several years as a kid. I loved playing it, but watching it on TV? Not so much. Of course, I’m not a big fan of watching hockey on TV, either. I really enjoy going to hockey games, but watching on TV bores me.

  4. Soccer can be played by any group of kids with access to an empty field and some sticks or rocks to mark the goals, as long as just one of them has a soccer ball. Hockey requires an ice rink (or at least a frozen-over pond), skates, body armor, and big sticks in addition to an easily-lost puck. Advantage: soccer.

  5. You know me well enough and having gone to sleep-away camp with me know where I come out on this one…. GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLL!!!!!!!!!

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