There's a good reason that every parent in Canada enrolls their spawn in hockey the second they're out of diapers. And then proceeds to subject themselves to 15 years of 5 a.m. hockey-practices. And auxiliary skating lessons, shooting clinics, and dry-land training sessions. And missing teeth and repeat concussions. And the occasional hockey-stands punch-up.
That reason is that hockey is inarguably the hardest sport in the world to master.
Think about it.
Any half-coordinated halfwit can step onto a soccer field and fool everyone into thinking they know what they're doing. All you need is feet, a pair of running shoes with Colgate toothpaste tops glued to the bottom, and a master certificate in the art of rolling around like you've just been shot from the grassy knoll.
Basketball? If you've got two feet and two hands you can run around the court tricking the world into thinking you're the offspring of Michael Jordan or Larry Bird.
Baseball? If you can stand in left field scratching your nuts for 20 minutes an inning, and sit on the dugout bench eating sunflower seeds the other 20, no one will ever figure that you're not the second coming of Larry Walker or Reggie Jackson.
As for football, you're good to go with a leather helmet and a pair of those cycling shorts every second Tour de France wannabe wears on the bike paths of Vancouver.
Hockey is an entirely different ball of clear sock tape. The very act of getting dressed requires an instruction manual for the uninitiated.
Sticks come in both left-handed and right-handed varieties, which makes it easy to spot confused newbies before they've left the dressing room.
A wrist shot takes months to master, and a slap shot years. And Bambi-like futility is guaranteed the first 40 or 50 times you step on the ice.
All this was driven home yesterday when Justin Bieber decided to give Jimmy Fallon an introductory lesson to Canada's national sport. (Sorry, lacrosse-you don't count and never will, and not just because anyone can look proficient at that sport with a pair of working legs and the ability to hold a makeshift fish net on a stick).
Canada's biggest pop star was on The Tonight Show to push his return to action with his upcoming fifth album, Changes. The singer took Fallon to an ice rink where he dressed the American and then took him out on the ice.
First came some basic skating-technique instructions, followed by a quick stickhandling drill, and a shootout where the Beeb's third goal suggested that he's got some truly sick hands.
Fallon meanwhile served as a reminder that, should you ever procreate in Canada, you have a moral obligation to start shopping for skates the second your child leaves the hospital.
Watch below, with major revelations including that Bieber's favourite player is the legendary Alexander Nordique, and that only a rookie gets geared up without taking a leak first.More