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National Table Hockey League

Why did you, why do you, or why would you play table hockey? Here are ten good reasons:

1. Your brother or brothers play. During the Golden Age of table hockey, nuclear families were the norm, and millions of siblings played. Brothers, and sisters too. Not to mention cousins. Brothers were dominant forces back then, like the Marinoffs and the Ettingers, and they still are dominant today, like the Bossios, the Cotes, and the Anoussis's. The current top 5 players all have or had brothers who play. Not a coincidence! And all of them from Montreal. There's no escape in Ontario. If you ever play in Brampton's Johnny Good Guy, you'll encounter more dominant brothers, including the Walmas, the Moultons, the O'Hagens, and the Reardons (from Buffalo).  Everywhere you look, it's a brother's game.

2. You found new brothers who play. In this age of single-child families, boys can discover brotherhood through table hockey. Playing table hockey makes people bond in a healthy way. All their aggression is vented on the ice, in competitive play, like knights jousting in a tournament. But off the ice they share a bond of brotherhood, and community, like knights at a round-table. All strive for the same cause: to be the best they can be at this sport.

3. Your father plays. More and more, we are seeing father-son combinations, from Chicago's Thills to Toronto's Walmas and Beedhams. Montreal has the Decaries and Douvilles, and the Montreal-NY connection has the Marinoffs -- Lou and Julian, the first father-son combo to make the NTHL's top-10. Table hockey is a great way to re-connect fathers and sons.

4. You're a girl whose brother or boyfriend or spouse plays. Girls and women can be excellent table hockey players. The sport does not rely at all on brute strength; rather on relaxed concentration, anticipation, improvisation, and rapid execution of precise eye-hand movements. The sport is intensely competitive, yet utterly non-violent. Girls and women are always welcome to play. It's great to see them in the sport. Many more girls will start playing as the NTHL encourages the sport in more schools.  

5. You love ice hockey. If you love playing ice hockey, roller-hockey, road hockey, ball hockey, ring hockey, field hockey or even video hockey, you will love playing table hockey. Why? Because table hockey captures all the essential features of ice hockey: skating, stick-handling, passing, shooting, checking, defense, goaltending, coaching, overtime, you name it. No other miniaturized game so faithfully mirrors the components and spirit of the scaled-up sport -- except for injuries. In table hockey, there are no concussions, no high sticks to the face, no stitches, no knee injuries, no fights. All the fun of hockey, minus the downsides. 

6. You do it for love, not for money. Classic table hockey, like most North American table hockey, is played for love of the sport, for intense fun, and maybe a trophy if it's your day. Players travel to Master's Series tournaments not because they get paid to -- on the contrary, they are glad to pay their own way, flying in or car-pooling or whatever. They also pay to play, because their entry fees help support the tournament itself. Players assemble as a community, but once the puck is dropped they play with passion, and for glory. One hundred percent pure glory: that's glorious, and priceless. The players' professionalism and proficiency are evident in the many videos online, but you have to see them live to experience their intensity.  It's fueled by passion, not pay.

7. You want to develop laser-like concentration, lightning-fast reflexes, and razor-sharp hand-eye coordination. People who play table hockey regularly develop these skills and more. There's no ADHD on the table-hockey tour. If you can focus on the board for five minutes against your opponent, you can focus off the board -- at work, study, whatever -- for as many hours without losing concentration.

8. You want to maintain good posture, and avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress disorders that plague computer users and gamers. Table hockey is played upright, and it engages the large muscle groups (legs, back, shoulders, arms) as well as the hands and fingers. It's actually a full-body workout, and your brain itself will burn a ton of calories if you play in a league or tournament.

9. You want a regular dose of reality, for you and/or your kids, to balance all the time you're spending in virtual places -- with social media, texting, videos, and everything else that's online. But we humans are embodied beings, not brains in vats or programs in the Matrix, and we need to balance virtuality with reality. Table hockey is a great way to accomplish this: It promotes socialization, sportsmanship, friendship, among other virtues that make people happier and more functional in the real world.

10. You want to cut down on violence in your school. Table hockey is an effective and non-violent way for children and adolescents to "blow off steam" or channel aggression.   Table hockey allows you to savor victory, without bloodshed. And your opponent can later turn the tables on you, and get equally bloodless revenge. The teachers at Ste Sophie School told the NTHL that ever since they instituted organized table hockey, schoolyard violence has simply stopped. There's a big message here for America, where school violence has become a deadly epidemic. If only more kids played organized table hockey, there would be much less violence. That's the NTHL's prediction, and solution: Let them shoot pucks instead of bullets.