The Clash of the Titans:
America’s pastime versus your favorite sport

The next time your football fan friends talk about how boring hockey is, point them to the Wall Street Journal study conducted earlier this year that cites that the typical football game includes only about 11 minutes of action (even less if you’re a Detroit Lions fan). The study timed the action of the broadcasts for four games on four networks on one weekend in late December and broke down every frame from hike to whistle. The games included the Buffalo Bills vs. Atlanta Falcons (CBS), Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins (NBC), Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Fox) and the Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings (ESPN).

While hockey and football are both 60 minute games, the assumption may be that you get the same amount of action in both sports… but you would be wrong. If you have ever watched a recorded NFL game, you know that much of your time is spent fast-forwarding through various diversions in the action.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I am a HUGE football fan. My point is not whether or not football is great… we’re just talking minutes of action here. I think you could make a valid argument for how exciting both sports actually are. It’s apples and oranges, really. After all, we’re not comparing soccer. Don’t even get me started on that one… At least in hockey and football, an injured player is REALLY injured and not using a dirty tactic to charge the other team with a penalty. But I digress… Hockey and football have a lot in common. Both are physical sports with loads of contact. That’s why we love them.

A regulation NFL game, for the uninitiated, consists of four quarters of 15 minutes each. The typical play in football takes only 4 seconds, but the clock keeps running for up to 40 seconds before the next play. Therefore, the ratio of action to inaction is approximately 10 to 1. Also keep in mind that “running down the clock” at the end of a game has become a commonplace strategy for a team who wants to keep their lead toward the end of the game to prevent the other team from scoring. A quarterback will often “take a knee” to keep the clock running down to the end of the game.

A regulation NHL game consists of 3 periods that last 20 minutes each and 15 minute intermissions between periods. A hockey game will typically last about 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, unlike in football, if the clock is running in hockey, the puck and players are moving so you get nearly a full 60 minutes of action (over 5 times as much live action time).

So what is the viewing audience at home actually watching?…
Football fans are treated to commercials (which take up nearly an hour), time-outs, booth reviews, challenges, replays, watching punts roll to a slow stop to save a yard or two, dancing, high fiving, standing around, huddles, shots of coaches, shots of the kicker warming up, injured players being carted off the field… well, you get the point. Many of these diversions take place while the clock is still ticking down. After a typical play is whistled dead, the clock will continue to run as the players are peeled away from the pile. The team on offense has 40 seconds after one play ends to snap the ball again…. that’s right, 40 seconds!

So, the next time a football fan tries to tell you that hockey is boring, just remind them that you watch sports for action. How can a football fan compete with that?

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