As far as sports go, hockey isn’t particularly difficult to understand-not in my opinion, at least. I grew up watching hockey, though, and I’ll concede that there may be a reason why so many people treat the sport as a huge joke. When watching a live game, it takes some experience to truly understand what’s going on-more than one of the many friends that I’ve dragged to games have complained that they’d have liked it a lot better if they could just see the puck. On TV, though, there’s never any doubt as to where the puck is, so I see no good reason why a casual viewer shouldn’t be able to follow a game.
Rules of the Game
The object of hockey is, of course, to shoot the puck into the opponent’s net, and thus score points. When watching the sport played at the Olympic level, though, it helps to understand the rules a bit better than that. In a typical of hockey, each team has six players on the ice-a goaltender, two defensemen, and three forwards. The forwards are further classified as a center, left wing, or right wing. It’s also helpful to understand a few basic rules of the game. A player cannot, for instance, enter an opponent’s zone before the puck does-this is a violation known as offside.
Competition in the Olympics
These are technicalities, though-by this point, you understand enough to watch a game of hockey and enjoy it. So what countries will be competing in hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics? The United States, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, and Latvia. Of these, it’s generally agreed that Sweden, the United States, Russia, and Canada are the most serious contenders, though some would include Finland and the Czech Republic in this category as well.
This may seem like a narrow field, and by some standards, it is. Hockey, though, is not as widely played as many other sports that feature more prominently in the Olympics, and this goes a long way toward explaining the seeming lack of competition. Furthermore, while some serious hockey fans might tell you that the winner is a foregone conclusion, this simply isn’t the case. I can guarantee that there’s more than one team with a chance at bringing home the gold, and there’s always room for an upset.
Hockey in the 2014 Winter Olympics promises to be as exciting as ever-I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to watch.
Sochi 2014 Ice Hockey