I completely agree that the sport they like reveals character but the reason I'm not so concerned about the specific sport in terms of character building is because the specific sport isn't what reveals character in this interaction, it's the act of small talk that is revealing of the character.
It could just as easily be weather but sports are a better gamble because there's always the possibility that the person your talking to will be a fan and will happily carry the bulk of the subsequent conversation. It also in a subtle way reinforces the gender norms men (at times) perpetuate with each other when they first meet.
Ironically both the men in this interaction are not sports fans (one is a musician and likes hockey but not in a must watch every game way, the other is too busy with work to follow any sport but he is very persuasive and so forms opinions on everything to grease conversational wheels in just such a circumstance, a bit of a glad-hander) but do want to make a good impression on each other out of a desire to impress the MC and ensure smooth relationships all around. Hence their desperation for a topic and the added bonus of subliminally measuring each others' performed masculinity.
I go into this long winded explanation not because I think anyone's interested in the deep background of minor characters in a WIP, but because I wanted to be clear that I'm not just doing this because I think all sports are interchangeable and irrelevant to character building.
I do appreciate being advised against missing opportunities for character development though, so, sincerely, thank you for the advice!