Someone please explain this sport to me

Updated: February 20, 2006, 6:08 PM ET
By Brian Church | Special to ESPN.com

At 41, ESPN.com's Brian Church saw his first ice hockey game Monday. The result was clear enough -- Switzerland routed Italy 10-0 in the women's seventh, eighth-place playoff -- but our British friend has a few questions about the new sport in his life.

Why were the umpires or refs -- those guys in stripes -- dressed like they've just escaped from prison?

Brian Church/ESPN.comHands up if you like ice hockey: A cheerleader at Switzerlands 10-0 win over Italy on Monday.

I thought ice hockey was meant to be violent?

Were the players heavily padded for protection or is this a politically correct sport which welcomes all sizes?

Why were the cheerleaders on the steps next to the fans?

What was the point of the Swiss goalposts?

Why were the cheerleaders there at all? In ice hockey?!

Spectators can get very angry, and it's infectious. Was I wrong to throw my shoe on the ice? And does the stadium have a lost property desk?

Is there a volume control for that buzzer if you've had a few drinks before the match?

Can that thing the players hit ever strike a spectator? Could my tombstone have read: Brian Church, Died suddenly 12:34 in the second half of the Switzerland-Italy game

Does it have to be cold inside the stadium? How about some heating, guys?

Out of all the Olympic sports, is ice hockey the biggest difference in standard between men and women athletes? Any male team would beat their female counterparts 30-0, right?

Why do they play so much music -- like Trini Lopez's "If I Had a Hammer" -- and is Uncle Trini still alive?

Why did players keep leaving the ice to sit on the bench? Call me a sports fascist, but if they're not fit, they shouldn't be at the Olympics.

A player got two minutes for "hooking." Shouldn't we take prostitution more seriously?

Why do players celebrate goals by hitting each other on the gloves? In a real sport, like soccer, players have a quick kiss 'n' cuddle and get on with it.

In a rare attack, the Italian player lobbed the thing and the Swiss keeper patted it down. Could she have caught it and refused to give it back unless the umpire asked real nicely?

Has anyone ever seen a goalie's face or are they all in witness protection programs?

Brian Church is a columnist with the Athens News in Greece. He will be contributing to ESPN.com throughout the Olympics.