No Red Lights: Hockey: Part I: Million Dollar Baby - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Part I: Million Dollar Baby

In an earlier posting, I alluded to the analogy between goaltending and boxing as expressed in a quote from the movie Million Dollar Baby by Clint Eastwood.  Let me preface by saying that this is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's both artistic and compelling. Dramatic and intellectual. Sports and human interest. So that's my two second plug for the movie.

So on to the quote:

"Frankie likes to say that boxing is an unnatural act that everything in boxing is backwards. Sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step back. But step back too far and you ain't fighting at all."

  ... it really is perfect. There are so many similarities between boxing and hockey. First, in terms of athleticism, they rank as the number one and two of the most athletic sports, respectively.  Yes, that's right. In this empirical study done by some researchers [ I'll have to find the article so I can cite it ], boxing held the #1 ranking as the most athletic sport. This study ranked athleticism using various criteria such as hand-eye coordination, mental composure, physical strength, etc. Following right behind boxing was hockey in the #2 ranking. The study proves, empirically, that there is strong similarity between the athletic skills necessary in the sport of boxing and the sport of hockey (and if this was in the 80's, you could make the argument that a lot of boxing went on on the ice, which would make hockey the most athletic sport by association).

So on to that quote - let's break it down:

"Frankie likes to say that boxing is an unnatural act"... 

Ditto for goaltending. There is nothing natural about being a goalie. We get hit with things. Fast things. Hard things. Things that hurt... a lot. Vulcanized, frozen bricks of rubber do not feel good when there is no padding to stop them. And watching pucks fly by without blinking or moving your head is extremely unnatural. But goalies, just like boxers, must take a hit. And the good ones, see them coming yet still do not flinch. Unless you are on an incredibly good team or unbelievably good at dodging punches, it is inevitable that you will get hit, and it is unnatural to willingly put yourself in that position.

to be continued....