Tales From the Pitch: Hockey Edition

Aries 2, 2078m m249


Ice, Ice, Babies.

I know, I know, there’s no pitch in hockey. Well it’s my column and I’ll keep the name that has garnered me legions of adoring fans. I also get to start off this column by relaying huge news: football isn’t the only sport on Mars anymore. Ice hockey is here.

When we first heard rumours of a football league on Mars, it sounded like a crazy flight of fancy, but it turned out to be the most exciting sporting event on two planets. So I had wanted to keep an open mind when I first heard about a group of engineers and miners had come up with the idea of bringing ice hockey to the Red Planet. But I did keep hearing rumours that no one knew how to skate, which, historians tell me, is a key component of playing ice hockey.

I got a chance to check out out my first game this weekend, and the rumours are exaggerated. But not by much. There wasn’t much grace or style to the game. It was sloppy, it was at times brutal, and once it was borderline embarrassing. But don’t judge the sport just yet.

The matches are held on a surface covered in ice, which continues up a curved area surrounding the rink. The theory is that a fast-paced game would allow for players to skate across the ice and up the sides to weave around their opponents, but mostly I just saw a lot of athletes crashing into each other. There were moments where it was like watching toddlers play.

Now the setup is impressive. Atmosphere is pumped into the enclosed arena, so no EV suits are required for players and spectators enjoy a more intimate experience compared with viewing from Spectator Transports. 

The players have different equipment depending on their positions and though the razor sharp blades seem precarious, they are programmed with a safety feature that causes them to retract before impact. It will allow players to keep all of their fingers and toes while on the ice.

The exhibition games are to test the viability of the sport, the workability of the rules, and the interest level of the fans.

I mention all of this because I think this sport needs to be given a chance. We’ve been spoiled by the success of MAFL and now we are expecting any other sport that comes our way to operate at the same level but within a fraction of the time. That isn’t fair to the hardworking men and women that are trying to create something new. MAFL had its rougher moments as well, but we tend to forget those occurrences now that the league is a huge success. Martian Ice Hockey has a lot of kinks to work out, but I saw a diamond in the rough out there today. All the components are there for an amazing sporting experience. We just need to give them a chance.