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10 Reasons We Still Play the Game (and Love Every Minute)

08/18/2014, 10:00am MDT
By Aaron Paitich

“Why’d you wanna play cawlidge hockey?”

“Isn’t it obvious? For the girls.”

Many of us have reenacted this scene from the movie “Miracle.” It never gets old, but we do. So as we embark on another fall season of adult hockey, we wanted to rephrase the question for our members.

“Why do you still play adult hockey?”

Why do you play? Tell us on Twitter at @USAHockey using the hashtag #IsntItObvious?

Here are 10 reasons we still play the game (and love every minute of it).

Camaraderie. Special friendships are created through the game of hockey. Those of you lucky enough to grow up playing youth hockey are likely still in contact with some of your former teammates. Lifelong friendships are a common product of the game, and adult hockey is no exception. There is no stronger bond in sports than the one we create in hockey.

It’s healthy. The health benefits adults can receive from playing hockey are enormous. We don’t have our 16-year-old metabolism anymore. Many of us sit at desks during the day and we are much less active than when we were as kids. Hockey changes that. Hockey makes us feel younger again. It’s a high-intensity workout without the treadmill boredom. It’s exhausting and energizing at the same time. We can sleep like a baby after playing and then feel happier and more relaxed at work the next day.

We can still emulate our heroes. We might be 10, 20, 30 or 40 years older, but we still want to copy our idols. We want to stickhandle like Patrick Kane, undress defenders like Bobby Ryan or make ridiculous saves like Jonathan Quick. And every once in a while, when you pull off a slick move, you can hear your teammates roaring from the bench.

It’s cool. Let’s be honest: If you’re an adult and you still play hockey – that’s cool. Feel free to walk around the office, classroom or jobsite with a little swagger in your step, even if you are sore from last night’s game. Hockey takes a lot of skill – and you’ve still got it. Wear the badge with pride.

The locker room. That feeling you get when you carry your bag into the locker room. When teammates march in one by one and you greet each other with a nice ribbing, some belly laughs or a wink and a nod. It’s game time. No matter what happened that day or week, you’re finally at the rink.

There’s a league and team for everyone. There were 167,527 USA Hockey-registered adult members in 2013-14, a record high. Women’s membership numbers are increasing at an especially rapid pace. There are 656 sanctioned leagues. There are Try Hockey For Free events, skills clinics, a free gear program and other fun events and valuable resources to get you on the ice. Whether you’re a beginner, former NHLer or anywhere in between, there’s a league for you. It used to be much tougher to find a good game.

The sights, sounds and smells. Yes, even the smells. They may cause your spouse to gag, but the smells of your gear and the rink are the smells of hockey, hard work and passion. The sound of skates cutting through the ice and the snap of a tape-to-tape pass is music to our ears. The sight of a well-executed breakout and a top-shelf one-timer gets the bench riled up. It’s all oddly therapeutic.

Post-game refreshments. Celebrating (or commiserating) over some beverages is a post-game tradition. It’s where you get the best stories and biggest laughs. It’s where you get to know your teammates better and foster those relationships. Winding down with some well-earned beers and good company is a good way to close out the day.

Pond hockey tournaments. If you’ve played in the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships on Dollar Lake in Wisconsin, then we don’t need to explain any further – but we will. It’s the largest, most competitive and most exciting pond hockey event in the world. If you can’t make it, many other pond hockey tournaments are spread out across the country.

You can win a championship. Beating your friends in “NHL 14” is fun. Winning the weekly poker game is nice. But by being a member of USA Hockey, you have the chance to compete for real trophies. You can even hoist a national championship trophy. How cool is that?

Why do you still play adult hockey? Tell us on Twitter at @USAHockey using the hashtag #IsntItObvious?

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