I think hockey has such intense fans because it's such a niche sport. It's like NASCAR: not a lot of mainstream popularity, but those who are fans are REALLY fans. There are very few casual fans in America, so the majority of the fanbase is intense with more than a little Napoleon complex because of the lack of respect in the mainstream.
(Another easy comparison would be to fans of TV shows like Community or Firefly...cultish fans that are borderline angry that the majority of people don't appreciate the object of their obsessive affections)
As for the attention that the Olympic hockey seems to get, I'd argue that it's more than matched by World Cup soccer. I remember my entire neighborhood getting together to watch both the men and women of the U.S. play in 2010 and 2011 (highlights of course being the women vs. Brazil and the men vs. Slovenia).
"America's sport" should be the most inclusive sport for the entirety of the country--the sport that any average Joe off the street can talk about at least a little bit. While 75% of Americans probably don't know Alexander Ovechkin or Jonathan Quick, most of the country knows who Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are. By that standard, American football is still America's sport.
Last Sunday, Michael Sam usurped Johnny Manziel's position as the most over-analyzed prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. It's for the best of reasons, of course, and while the talking heads debate for hours about gay athletes in the NFL, I'd like to talk about where his lasting impact will be.
Masculinity has a p
Jordan vs. Wilkins is worth a whole other take. Not only that, but Larry Bird's three-point contests. I've watched more YouTube clips of Bird than any other basketball player.
I think the best part about the participants this year is that they matter in a big way. I pine for the days when Larry Bird and Michael Jordan would participate in the All-Star events.