Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We are all just fans of the game

You love hockey.  You are more than a casual fan, or else you wouldn't be reading this.  I'm right there with you:  I'm just a fan like yourself, but I've got a big mouth.  I've been trying to write about my favorite team, as well as how they relate to the rest of the 'Dub.

Jared is also a WHL fan, primarily a Kelowna Rockets fan.  He gives a damn about the game, just like you and me.  That's a beautiful thing.

We've all seen those studies about how some of our worst tendencies come out when we comment online - its often anonymous, and even when our names are attached, we are still somewhat disconnected.  Sometimes the game threads on the WHL's facebook page can go sideways, especially when US Division teams are involved.  We've seen entire posts get deleted when the Americans play the Chiefs, for example.  Again, those posters are fans, like me & you.  

Almost without exception, those threads make the case that the ref for that game is incredibly biased against every team - which has influenced how I look at officiating, being how they cannot possibly give 22 teams the short end of the stick.

Its easy to spout out in the heat of the moment - we all do it.  Our friend Jared has thought about this as well, and his comment above pushes the conversation in a positive direction - a direction about junior hockey.  I love conversations about junior hockey, don't you?

I've been there, too.  I'm not above getting worked up about this game.  I clearly remember my first trip into the Cable Box to see the 'Hawks play the Silvertips.  This is a division rival -  I hate the damn Silvertips - right?  I was wound pretty tight pulling off of I-5 into downtown Everett.  We stopped at that gator themed restaurant that's closed down now.  Well, strangely enough there were 'Tips fans in there having a good time, and I made friends with them.  Turns out, they were fans just like me, only they have that stupid bear on their sweaters.  Seems so obvious, but I had to have a beer with them to realize that.

The next night we saw the 'Hawks play the Thunderbirds in the Key.  It was a sparsely attended game, and we had some rowdy T-birds fans a few rows behind us give us some shit.  Nothing major, just a lot of heckling and some throwing of trash our way.  We moved over a section, and our new neighbors were falling all over themselves to be nice to us:  they had noticed what happened, and wanted us to know not to paint all T-birds fans with that brush.  Those fans are passionate, even if a little out of line.  Its fine - that sort of thing happens sometimes

I learned a lot from those first two WHL road games.  Then again, I might have only learned one thing, and its that we're all just fans of the same game, the same kids, & the same league.  Except Kyle Beach.  No one likes Kyle Beach.

 I don't make it to many road games, but I have been to every barn in the US Division.  Aside from that one minor incident described above, EVERYONE is nice to me.  Other hockey fans are genuinely happy that you came out to watch the game with them - at least that's been my experience.

If you want to see how I behave at a road game, you're in luck.  I happened to sit in front of the camera for Game 4 of the Everett series last year, and in the second period you can see me celebrate the 'Hawks goals.  

The time before that when I was in that barn, we made friends with some locals on the front steps post-game, and walked a few blocks to their keg party.  They rolled out the red carpet for us.  It was fun.

We could go into things like spray painting a church, or calling 911 to report an event in a hockey game,  throwing bananas at black players, or rioting, for example.  Lots of fans can take things too far.

Sometime you should ask me about starting a mini-riot at a USHL game, or wearing road colors to Game 4 of the 2001 NHL Western Conference Finals.  Again, I've been wound tight before, but its important to keep things in perspective.

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