High-sticking is one of the most literal penalties when it comes to ice hockey. Roughing can be considered several things. The interference definition can be nebulous. However, high-sticking is essentially self-explanatory where a player’s stick hits an opponent due to the fact that the stick was too high. It’s really self-explanatory, unless you are a Spanish-speaking ice hockey announcer where there isn’t a verbatim for the term “high-sticking”.

Spanish Ice Hockey Announcers

“It would suck to say high-sticking literally. It sounds awful,” stated Francisco X. Rivera, who translates Los Angeles Kings matches in Spanish. Rivera, who is one of three Spanish broadcasters within the NHL, utilizes the term “baston” which means “cane”. Hector Lozano also uses the term, who translates Chicago Blackhawks matches in Spanish. “When it comes to high-sticking, we usually say ‘baston alto’ which roughly translates to “high cane”, Lozano stated. “It’s just something about the sport where there’s no translation for quite a few terms. So you essentially need to work with whatever you have. We also have tons of terminology that is broadcasted in English as oppose to Spanish. Icing is extremely difficult. However, offsides is quite easy as we simply say ‘fuera de juego.’”

What is even more difficult for Spanish translators is when there’s a scrum for the puck between numerous players in the corner. “I was unable to determine how I would say the puck is in the middle of several skates while players were trying to obtain it. So I simply said that they were chopping tomatoes, cilantro, or onions just to give fans a reference as to what it actually looked like when they attempted to obtain the puck in a corner,” Jesus Lopez stated who translates Vegas Golden Knights matches.

English-speaking fans of hockey take this for granted when they listen to a game. Even a fundamental concept in a match like a body check doesn’t seem to have a literal Spanish term.
“When one player smashes another player into a wall, I would yell, “Someone received a ham sandwich! Checking is something that I struggle to translate,” Rivera stated. “Therefore, I utilize ‘get close to someone,’ which is used to describe a girlfriend or boyfriend. Why not make it more entertaining? Respecting both the players on the ice as well as the people who are new to the sport is something that hasn’t been done in a sport before,” Lopez stated.

Sports essentially paints a picture of what is occurring during the match, from the action to the atmosphere. Spanish translators cater to a wide variety of listeners who don’t have a clue of what that painting should actually look like. Therefore, they utilize a smaller palette when compared to their French- and English-speaking counterparts. It can still be considered art. Spanish translators in the NHL are not changing the language of ice hockey, but are actually broadening the appeal of the game to an underserved market.