I was talking to a few friends this afternoon about the upcoming hockey season. It was enjoyable discussion and while resting in my bed shortly after, I found myself thinking about the Rangers and even imagining different goals that could be scored. At some point I noticed that I had a familiar feeling in my stomach. For those of you who dont know what Im talking about, Im sure you have at least once had that mixed feeling of yearning and anticipiation.
That really got me thinking about why I love hockey. Im a huge sports fan and I love my basketball, baseball and football, but I never think about them during the offseason. I dont scream every time a point is recorded or cry when my team is eliminated. That is reserved for hockey. Why is that? What is it about hockey that has made me become attatched to it, that has made me live and die with the ups and downs? And after pondering this question for a while, I realized that in every sport, the mentality of the fans reflect how the sport is played. And i decided to write an emotional (at least I was) rant about why hockey is the greatest sport and why the fans are the greatest fans in the world.
Looking at every sport, there are many characteristics that represent it and in turn, the fans. Baseball is a tame sport; no physical play, no rowdy fans (except at Red Sox-Yankees games). Football has a lot of showboating and crazyness, certainly something you see at a football game. And so on.
But hockey has something that no other sport has. It has heart and passion. Every game is a grind, a battle. Every second of every shift requires hustle from every player. Teammates are like brothers and the entire team is one person so if you mess with my teammate, you mess with my brother and you mess with me. There is no backing down, only standing together. It is brutal, the hits dont stop coming and it really hurts to be slammed into a wall by a 200+ pound player + pads and land on a cold, hard sheet of ice or fly into an opponents bench.
There is no stopping, its just an all out frenzy from the time your skates hit the ice until you are safely back on the bench. And then it starts all over again, up to 30 times per game, 82 games per season. And then comes the playoffs when your collective lives are on the line and any amount of energy that you would have saved during the season is left out on the ice. And the hits feel harder and the letdowns feel bigger. The game is played with the essence of passion. And all of this passion and heart is expended for a shot to lift the cup. For a trophy and for a game that they love
And that is how the fans are. We are crazy, we are obsessed, we live our sport. If someone disrespects our sport he disrespects all of us. If someone insults your team he insults all of the fans. Look at any thread where a team is bashed and within 5 minutes there have been at least fifteen posts by ten different people defending their team and bashing the poster. We are passionate about the game. How many of you scream cries of exultation after every goal. How many of you cry after a big loss or elimination. How many of you have painted your face or screamed until you could scream no longer, just to support your team.
I know I have. And what other sport can you find thousands of fans reading, writing and commenting about the sport in the middle of the offseason. Which sport has the biggest and most fan sites despite having the smallest fan base. It is unbelievable how passionate the fans are about hockey. I and everyone else reading this knows it. So dont let the fact that we and our sport are looked down upon by others. Because hockey fans are the best fans out there, we are all brothers regardless of our loyalties. We all stand together and to tell the world that hockey is our sport. We are the sport and the sport is us.
That is why I love hockey and why I miss it so much. And that is why I cant wait for the upcoming season and to write, read and breathe hockey with all of you this season.