NHL versus NFL: Which sports league is tougher?

Canucks Luke Schenn
Photo Credit: Bob Frid

The NHL and the NFL are two of the most physically demanding sports leagues in the world, famed for a high level of physicality and player aggression. While hockey and football are two completely different sports, there are several similarities. These are most notably concerned with player contact, as both sports encourage an inherently physical approach to tactics and gameplay. 

The emphasis on contact is what makes the NFL and the NHL two of the most popular and famous sports leagues on the planet. Spectators know they’re in for a battle whenever two teams play each other, especially if there are any deep-seated rivalries on the field. It makes the action incredibly exciting to watch and place bets on as a punter. 

Sportsbooks are rapidly increasing in popularity nowadays, with hockey and football being two of the main sports to bet on. New NFL betting apps have made it quick and straightforward to place various types of wagers on football games. From parlay bets to individual player props, placing wagers is a great way to complement the watching experience. 

There is no denying the toughness of the NFL and the NHL, but which would come out on top if you placed them in a head-to-head? Let’s find out. 

NHL: a brief summary 

The first NHL season took place in 1917, more than 100 years ago. Since then, it has become easily the largest and most successful hockey league worldwide. In fact, the NHL is the fifth-wealthiest professional sports league on the planet by revenue. The much-heralded Stanley Cup is also North America’s oldest professional sports trophy. 

The NHL comprises 32 teams. Seven are from the league’s original birthplace in Canada, while the other 25 are from the United States. Although fighting in NHL games is technically illegal, it has been a quintessential part of hockey since the early 1900s. Players are not ejected for fighting as they would be in European hockey leagues – but they do receive a penalty. 

NFL: an overview 

The NFL is the wealthiest professional sports league and arguably the most watched. It started life in 1920, quickly becoming the most important form of sporting entertainment across the US. Every year, teams compete to win the fabled Super Bowl and prove themselves as the best team in the league. 

Physical contact is an essential part of NFL games. Players must tackle their counterparts to stop them from rushing and eventually scoring a touchdown. Unlike the NHL, fighting is strictly prohibited in the NFL rules. The league actively tries to protect its players as much as possible, so any unnecessary violence is frowned upon.

NHL vs. NFL: which is toughest? 

Both leagues are physically demanding and aggressive, but which one is the toughest? It’s a subjective question in many ways, with both leagues staking a claim. However, one thing that puts the NHL ahead of the NFL is the leeway given for players to fight. Football players aren’t allowed to resort to fisticuffs at any point during a match, receiving huge punishments for doing so. 

On the other hand, NHL players involved in fighting only receive penalties, leading many sports fans to argue that hockey is the toughest sport out of the two. Moreover, NFL players get a short break after most successful tackles, while hockey can be a lot more relentless. 

Why is fighting so common in the NHL?

Ever wondered why fighting is so common in the NHL? Many American hockey fans see it as an essential part of the game, but in Europe and other parts of the world, it’s frowned upon. Fighting in hockey is said to have arisen during the early days when the rules were murky, and player disputes were easier to resolve with brute force. 

In the early 1900s, several players died after hockey fights, exemplifying how brutal the sport’s origins are. Fighting is, however, generally getting less common in the NHL nowadays. Fewer players are being molded as so-called “enforcers”, with skating ability being way more important to the modern game. 

Who are the favorites in the upcoming NHL season?

Each NHL season is hotly contested, and the upcoming one is no different. Teams like the Detroit Red Wings have improved massively in the offseason, but have they done enough to be considered favorites? Not in most people’s books, with teams such as Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers ahead in the pecking order. 

Ray Aniston

Ray Aniston has been writing and podcasting for several websites in recent years. This new venture is the first to have a site covering the entire NHL and not just a single team.

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