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So first of all, I have to say that I am a bit biased. I love hockey. I have been a Blackhawks fan for years, and have watched as many games as I can. That is probably a big reason why I enjoy hockey so much. The Hawks are a very, very fun team to be a fan of.
With that said, I also enjoy the NFL (second most) and other sports. There's no doubt that football, soccer, rugby, etc, are all also extremely demanding. These athletes all work extremely hard on their bodies and train hard on their sport.
The reason why I think the NHL is the most demanding, is because it demands a bit of every sport to be done at the same time. Not only do you have to focus on a hockey puck in the midst of all the players and flying ice, but you are ice skating through a brigade of 6ft monsters trying to slam into you. Sometimes it's even hard for me to find the puck from a bird's eye view on my TV. On top of that, there's the boxing. Almost every player is expected to get into a fight every once and a while. And if you've ever been in a fight, it is exhausting. Now imagine doing it in the middle of all the other stuff going on, and having to go right back to performing.
So you have the quick burst of speed/instant stopping skating, the heavy gear, the amazing hand-eye coordination, the fighting, the skill of operating a hockey stick, dodging massive opponents/ getting hit by them and getting right back up, and lastly, trying to follow the rules while doing so. I'm sure I'm missing some key points, but there are just so many that it's hard to word.
Thoughts? Am I too biased? Prove me wrong.