**Quick word of warning: this deals with the Patrick Kane situation so if that is not something you feel you want to or can delve into, please do not read.**
First things first. I want to make it absolutely clear that my feelings as a sports fan are pitifully irrelevant when compared with anything victims of abuse or assault go through. My intent here is not to diminish victims’ experiences in the slightest.
My intent is just to get a few things off my chest and I freely admit they are entirely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I’m just writing this because I find writing things out to be cathartic. Read or don’t read. Care or don’t care. It’s entirely up to you. I’m not trying to teach you a lesson or telling you how to feel. I just need to write this down so I can start to process it.
If you would have told me in June, right after the hockey team I’m a fan of had won the Stanley Cup, that I’d feel like this on the first day of training camp in September, I wouldn’t have believed you.
From the standpoint of my forays into trying to be an “analyst”, I am still excited for hockey season to start. From a team specific fandom standpoint, I find myself filled with anxiousness, but not in a hopeful kind of way. I’m not saying I’m right to feel this way, because I don’t know if I am. I’m not saying anyone else is obligated to feel this way either. Right or wrong, I just know it’s how I feel.
Sports are an escape for many people, including me. Sports elicit lots of emotions and frankly that’s a big part of the reason so many of us enjoy them. The past several seasons, I’ve been fortunate enough to ride the emotional highs of my favorite team winning it all three times. The elation of those triumphs was such that I was moved to tears of joy on more than one occasion. I wanted to relish every moment of what seemed like a golden age of my hockey fandom.
Thinking about that now, as I sit here typing this and wondering if I’m even going to hit the publish button, I feel an overwhelming sense of… I don’t know… guilt? shame? It’s hard to describe.
It feels like all of the happiness I have derived from something I love has come at a terrible price. It feels like my joy fed the monster that then turned its head and bared a mouthful of needle sharp teeth at me. It feels like betrayal. I thought of myself as smart enough to keep my sports related emotional attachments from clouding my judgment, but to my disappointment and frustration, they did anyway.
It feels like my cheers and tears fueled a machine that places athletic ability above accountability. I knew the machine was there all along. Its presence wasn’t a surprise or a shock, but this time, when the machine was finally running loudly enough to grab my attention, it was running on fuel that I had poured into the tank. The machine was a part of me, or perhaps more aptly, I was a part of the machine.
I’m not sure where this goes from here. I’m still trying to figure that out. I don’t plan to walk away from my fandom. I’m just not sure how comfortable I feel with it right now. I know my experience is not unique. I know I’ve probably got a lot of company in feeling like this. I’m not asking for sympathy or a pity party or anything. I just need to find a way to reconcile all of this and I don’t think it is going to be easy.