Think you’d rather play in the big leagues over the rec leagues? Think again. 7 reasons why beer league hockey is better.
By Warren Tabachnick
1. The Beer
It is taboo for NHL players to drink in the locker room (before or) after games, unless a major milestone has been reached by the team. Usually when this happens, the players are drinking something far more upscale and bubbly than the 30-rack lager that is traditionally chugged down after every beer league hockey game.
It goes without saying that the usually reliable availability of refreshments in the beer leagues is unrivaled. That of course depends on whether the one who volunteered to bring the beer to your game follows through with their promise (see our post “Don’t be That Guy”).
2. The Family
Yeah, so a lot of us beer league hockey players may be a bit soft in the middle, out of shape, and not what you’d call world-class athletes. And we’re not exactly reeling in the ladies after the games simply by showing up at the bar. As for the roar of the crowd, that’s pretty much all in your head.
But the home life is what likely makes the beer leaguer a source of envy among his highly skilled, well-paid counterpart in the NHL. The typical 12-game rec hockey season does not keep you from the wife and kids for more than a few hours a week. And more often than not, the games are scheduled at a time that is long after the kids have been put to bed.
3. The Pressure (or lack thereof, really)
Except for a few of us who take the game way too seriously, we play for the love of the game and the camaraderie it offers that is unmatched by any other sport. For the most part, your boss has no knowledge of your late-night exploits, other than the zombie-like stupor you’re in when you show up at work the day after a late game.
If you miss a wide-open net, or a goal is scored while you’re on the ice, you don’t have to worry about losing your job and being traded to another team in some far-off location. (On the flip side, depending on the degree of competitiveness of your team, one too many flubs and you might find yourself in the chateau bow-wow.) A beer league hockey game is generally loose and relaxed—and most of all—it’s always a blast.
4. The Friends
You sign up for your team a few weeks (or months) prior to the start of the season. If you choose to, you can remain with the same group year after year, provided there is a mutual interest in doing so among your teammates. And you do not have to worry about teammates being traded away, sent to the minor leagues, or signed by another team. Often, you get to choose your teammates, and they usually end up being your friends for life.
5. The Time Commitment
Sure, it would be great to play hockey every day. We love the game and it would be a dream come true for us. But there’s a big difference between choosing to do what you love, and being expected to give it your all day in and day out, especially when your body may not be up to the task.
The once- or twice-a-week schedule is more than enough for most of us to enjoy the game we love to play and still have the drive to get out on the ice each time we are called upon.
6. The Connections
Sure, you get to meet plenty of people as a pro hockey player, and many of them will likely become lifelong friends. But honestly, where else can you play hockey on the same team as your doctor, dentist, or lawyer—or meet potential professionals and/or clients—but in beer league hockey?
Some of the connections made in the locker room can help further a career, and mark the beginning of lasting business partnerships. (There have even been marriages between beer league teammates, but more on that in another post). Hockey provides the amazing opportunity of bringing together people from all walks of life, and the amateur aspect opens up the door for all kinds of relationships to be formed off the ice.
7. The Beer
Oh, and did we mention the beer? Cheers!