Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Hopping on the Bandwagon

Ahh, playoff time! As a Vancouverite, I have had hockey shoved down my throat for the majority of my life. My parent’s both being immigrants, were not hockey fans, so by the time hockey was being shoved down my throat, I was at an age where could chew and swallow it.
I have been somewhat of a bandwagoner ever since I was a kid. As a non-athletic girl, I hardly understood the components of the game, but couldn’t help being attentive when the contagious excitement of playoffs would arrive. My 1st memories of good playoff hockey was back when the Canucks, geared up in their old yellow uniforms, played up to game 7 against the New York rangers. I recall singing along to the radio song that made fun of the size of Mark Messiers head, I remember thinking Pavel Bure was super cute, and becoming a fan of him as he was the star of the team at the time.  I remember feeling bad for Kirk McLean, as he was getting all the flack for games lost… I remember feeling sad and angry when they lost. But, I decided that it was like anything: without the lows you don’t get the highs!

I never was a bona fide hockey fan. When I was 19 or so, I started to pretend I was. It was just easier. It was a social thing, and pretty much mandatory as it was the basis for most springtime party nights. It was also unavoidable. Going out to a bar wasn’t primarily for socialization, as everyone would be fairly quiet and focused on the game. Until the Canucks scored, that is. Then the entire bar would bellow in an excited uproar. If the Canucks would win, the atmosphere would be light and positive. Everyone would have a great night and be in a great mood. If they lost, however, the mood would be dismal. You would hear tidbits of conversations, true fans attempting to reassure each other that “it’s still early in the season” or hammering out the stats of the back up goalie. There is a certain desperation in those post-loss conversations. It’s almost as if we were going to war, and that losing is not an option. I would be curious to see statistics on the occurrence of bar fights after a losing night.  I assume that the somber air would inspire more fights than a winning night, or a night where there was no hockey game at all.

Hockey inspires a sense of patriotism among Vancouverites, and I'm assuming, among the rest of the Canadian population as well.  I realized this when the 2010 winter games were here,(which is a whole other blog post) and we would gather, shoulder to shoulder in beer soaked bars to catch the action on the team Canada games. The feeling of Team Canada winning was similar to the feeling of Canucks winning. It gives Vancouverites something to believe in. It’s like a unified religion based on worshipping those that have the power to obtain the Stanley Cup. For me, I have not been raised or baptized into hockey, but still, I can’t help but believe in it for cultural reasons.

A couple of years ago I decided that I would quit hockey. I was never knowledgeable enough about the rules of the game to call out an offside or penalty, and I had stopped following other teams and player stats due to lack of time and increase in other interests. I decided that the players are paid too much and that I was wasting my time worrying about a silly sport. I didn’t like that feeling of hopelessness after a game loss. I didn’t like the stress of having my heart beat out of my chest while watching games. I was spending way too much money on beer, and having too many hung-over workdays due to weekday games.  I stopped watching. I even resisted encouragement from my beer drinking friends to hop on the playoff bandwagon. I never went as far as to say that the Canucks suck, as I didn’t pay enough attention to even have an opinion on them.

We are once again at playoff time. Tonight is the 1st game of the 1st series. My roommate is a die hard Canucks fan; a real one. Someone who has had it shoved down his throat before he was ready to chew and swallow. He is someone that understands the game and pays attention to game and player stats. He is passionate about it, but not annoyingly so. Because of him, I know that the Canucks are #1 in the league this year. I know that one of the Sedin twins is the #1 goal scorer. I know that we are doing better than ever before and that our playoff spot wasn’t a surprise. It is because of him that I have watched a few games, and seen the players in action. I must say, the games I watched were all very exciting and I became a bit nostalgic for the time that I too, was die hard fan (impersonator).

I will be following the playoffs and watching most of the games. I have officially decided to hop on the bandwagon this year. I would love if Vancouver won the Stanley cup, not only for the morale of my city, but because I think that this year, the team truly deserves it. I just hope that I am not too disappointed if they don’t take home the cup!

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