September 05, 2008

A Guide To Hockey

Given that there has been much talk in the news media of late about something called “hockey,” and given that there are probably some of you who are unfamiliar with the aspects of this activity because it’s not football or, umm, well…football, I have taken it upon myself to offer some pointers and tips and such about this sport. My qualifications include the fact that Birmingham has had many, many hockey games played here. No, I don’t know why. But that doesn’t matter, I’m still an expert on the subject.

1. Object of the game: As with all real sports, such as football, the object is to win by scoring more points than the other team through an intricate set of tactical and strategic movements on the playing field while simultaneously beating the fool out of each other.

2. Field of play: Due to the fact that the contestants wear ice skates instead of football cleats, as a matter of convenience, the field of play is a great big sheet of ice about 2/3 the size of a football field. Although it may seem odd that the players wear ice skates, one must remember that this game originated in the frozen Yankeelands, where it is common for everyone to wear ice skates all the time anyway. The sheet of ice has many pretty colored lines and circles and dots and such painted on it for decoration.

3. Equipment: Long curvy wood clubs are used to beat opposing players and chase around a frozen Moon Pie on the ice. On each end of the sheet of ice, there’s a big square crab net sort of deal and a score is recorded if you manage to get the Moon Pie in the net.

4. Rules of Play: Each team is composed of the same amount of players as in a six-man football squad, with one guy trained to guard the crab net and beat people, and the other ones trained to swat the Moon Pie fiercely toward each other and toward the other team’s crab net, and also to beat people. You cannot pick up the Moon Pie and run with it, nor heave it to one of your teammates, nor kick it through the goal, although if the Moon Pie hits you and bounces in the crab trap, that’s okay. Touchdowns only count one point, and there are no such things as field goals or safeties. Unlike football, there is no snap for each play, and all the players skate around in each others backfields and hit each other with their sticks the whole time.

5. Penalties: As with football, there are referees, and as is common in all sports the officiating squad is assembled from a seemingly endless supply of blind, mentally-deficient nincompoops who have no idea about the rules of the game nor who their real fathers are. They can, however, operate a whistle. And apparently, despite all the walloping that goes on, there are some things that are bad, and so the stripes get to blow their whistles and stop the play. Sometimes if they get really mad, they’ll send a player out to what’s called a “penalty box” although it’s not much of a penalty because they get to sit there and rest and drink alcoholic beverages the whole time. There are several other penalties that can be called, such as “icing,” which has nothing to do with the chocolate stuff on the outside of the Moon Pie, and “offsides,” which is pretty meaningless, since again, there is no snap count and no one lines up against each other and everyone’s just whooshing around beating each other. Sometimes the whole bunch will start wrestling for the Moon Pie and it gets locked up so the refs will stop things and get the Moon Pie and drop it betwixt a couple of players and let them fight for it fair and square. Although it is acceptable to beat on each other, sometimes everyone gets carried away in the moment and they forget all about whacking the Moon Pie into the crab net and all just start grappling and wrestling and beating each other to the exclusion of all else. Although this provides most of the entertainment value of the sport, the black hats look askance at it and after ten or fifteen minutes they break things up and send everyone out for a smoke and alcohol break, and then start over.

6. Hockey Mom: Each player is required to have a mother. The mother is responsible for seeing to it that the player is at the field on time, the player’s skates are tied correctly, and that he has his mouthguard, helmet, pads, wooden club, and a selection of snacks, juice boxes, and smokes and alcohol for sharing after the contest is complete. Each mother is required to be able to field strip a referee into its main components within 20 seconds. Should there be an altercation upon the field of play that continues after regulation time, players are sent to go shower and have a drink, and then each player’s mother completes the altercation in his stead in the parking lot, with points deducted for smudged makeup or broken fingernails. The losing mother in such altercations is required to host the next team hot dish supper, with the winning mother hosting the supper after that.

It really is a very exotic and interesting sport, despite the lack of marching bands or kickoff returns. We hope you have enjoyed this primer on the sport of hockey.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at September 5, 2008 11:05 AM

This non-blogging thing is getting to be a non-habit with you.

Thank you for the clarification on the hot dish rules; I was unaware one had to fight for the priveledge of hostessing.

One question though - does the winning team get to eat the game moon pie?

Posted by: Diane at September 5, 2008 11:46 AM

I just hope that no one confuses my non-blogging with blogging, or...well, I don't know.

As for the post game fight, although it might seem odd that the loser gets to hostess first and the winner gets to hostess the second event, it just means that the winning mom has an extra week or two to get the house straightened up and maybe borrow some more chairs from church, instead of having to go home and start cleaning up right away.

As for who gets the Moon Pie at the end, I believe it is customary for these to be given to the referees in lieu of payment.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at September 5, 2008 12:13 PM

Steevil couldn't get the following comments to go through, so he emailed them to me:

1. I'm amazed you haven't heard from Skinnydan yet.

2. Based on pictorial evidence, many hockey players think there are points given for catching the frozen Moon Pie in their teeth.

Posted by: Pseudo-Psteevil at September 5, 2008 12:17 PM

I believe Skinnydan must be out playing hockey. Second, frozen Moon Pies are quite a treat, so who could blame anyone who gets hungry during the match for wanting to try one?

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at September 5, 2008 12:25 PM

I have not responded previously as I am stunned by the completeness and total accuracy of the Great Possum's description of the game.

He has truly captured the entire essence, with the tiny missed detail that players, including the quarterback (who is oddly referred to as the goalie and doesn't throw anything) are required to speak in a pidgin dialect of French referred to as "Canadian." The essential word used is "eh?", which describes everything from "pass the moon pie" to "your mom really kicked that ref's *&^% today, dude."

Possum Daddy's explanation has also revealed that I have been playing the game completely wrong for five years, and I am grateful for the elucidation.

Posted by: skinnydan at September 5, 2008 01:02 PM


I am happy to be of service, and hope that your teammates will enjoy your newfound understanding of the game, eh.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at September 5, 2008 02:12 PM

Well now, wait a minute. On "MASH" once I heard the colonel talk about hockey and I could've sworn he said they use horses. Am I misremembering?

Posted by: McGehee at September 5, 2008 06:05 PM

Oh, no, not at all, you are absolutely spot on.

Horse hockey, sometimes known as polo, is like ice hockey played in the dirt with horses and croquet mallets and golf balls and rich people, and they spend a lot less time whacking each other and talking in Canadaravian, and more time posing for Ralph Lauren catalogs and swilling fizzy Frog booze.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at September 5, 2008 08:56 PM

A better description of the exciting sport has never before been published. This is classic!

And it explains why my BSU likes hockey!

Posted by: Nate at September 6, 2008 12:31 AM

It is indeed an exciting and colorful competition, although halftime would be better if they could find a way to have a marching band on skates.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at September 6, 2008 09:34 AM