Emotion is a huge part of the game of hockey, more so than any other sport. That is the aspect of the game that draws in the fans; the intensity, devotion, and sacrifice. The ups and downs, the ebbs and flows. The excitement and the despair.
To an extent, the fans reflect the emotion of the game. We scream, yell, and shout. We sit on the edge of our seats, hoping and praying, willing our team to victory. Our mood is affected by a win or by a loss. The worst news can't get me down after a big win, but don't even try talk to me after a bad game.
But then comes the other half of being a fan. The rationality, the intellect, the analysis and observation. Just as hockey fans are likely the most emotional fans in sport, we are also likely the most knowledgeable. We understand our game. We cringe when the suit sitting at the game next to us asks how many minutes there are in the 4th quarter.
And with that understanding, we know that there are winning streaks and losing streaks for every team. No matter how good your team is, it will lose and it will lose badly. It happens in competition. There is always another team that wants to win as well.
When those losses happen, it hurts. No rationalization can ease that pain.
But at what point does your emotion have to be limited? Are you still a fan if you hate your own team because of the bad games they have had? Are you really devoted if you give up on the team a quarter of the way into the season?
And that brings me to the final aspect of being a fan. Belief.
We all believe our teams can win, even against all odds. That's why we keep coming back, keep watching, keep enduring the tough losses. Because we believe it is worth it, that it will be worth it when we finally taste the sweet essence of victory.
So I pose a question to the readers of this article.
What do you consider a real fan?
Someone who is so emotionally invested that he wants to fire the coach for a shootout loss that drops the teams record to 9-0-1?
Someone so knowledgeable that he cant get excited about any regular season game because it is not mathematically meaningful enough?
Someone with so much belief he refuses to give up and be frustrated when his team is down by 5 goals with a minute to go?
Or maybe its someone who strikes a balance. Who can feel the joy and pain of the games, but without overreacting to the negative and with enough faith to stick with his team, his players, and his coach through the ebbs and flows of any period, game, and season?