Baseball was given the title ?the great American pastime.? But with baseball fading in popularity and savvy Americans turning their eyes to the heavy hitting of American football, I wonder ? what ever happened to hockey?

Hockey is believed to have been around since the Native Americans used curved sticks to bat a ball around. Most likely it was not quite the same as modern day hockey, but I?m sure it was still competitive.

The first formal hockey game is believed to have been played in Kingston, Ontario in 1855, when teams from the Royal Canadian Rifles and the Imperial Army troop battled it out on a frozen pond.

But it wasn?t until a McGill University student, W.F. Robertson, organized the first recorded game in 1865 that hockey started to gain popularity. The game was played between two teams of McGill students on the Montreal campus.

You may ask yourself, ?Why does this kid even care about hockey??

Hockey vs. NASCAR

That?s simple. I come from a ?hick-town? in Pennsylvania where NASCAR is second to none. Now there is a sport that I just cannot understand why people watch.

This weekend, sit down and challenge yourself to watch more than ten consecutive minutes of cars going around an oval track. Networks try to make it interesting by putting cameras in drivers? cars ? that just doesn?t do it for me.

It is proven that the main reason people watch NASCAR is to watch the accidents that occur.

I wonder how those people felt while watching the Daytona 500 a few weeks ago. It?s amazing how quickly people became Dale Earnhardt fans.

Back to hockey, I have always beena loyal Philadelphia Flyers fan, and there was nothing more exciting than watching Eric Lindros during the playoffs.

Throughout every game, he knocked people into never-never land ? until he got hit one too many times and now spends his days playing CandyLand with his children.

Just like most Canadians don?t pay much attention to American football, I really don?t think we ever gave hockey a chance. But, watching the National Hockey League playoffs is just as exciting as watching college basketball?s March Madness.

It?s a combination of the heavy hitting of the National Football League and the gracefulness of a batter?s swing in Major League Baseball.

Ask your parents about the way hockey used to be played. If they are avid hockey fans they will give you extensive stories about a player making the game-winning save with his teeth or somebody breaking his leg in the second period and coming back to score the game-winning goal in the third period.

Agree or disagree, I think that hockey is the only professional sport that has not lost its intensity.

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