On a Personal Note

**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.

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5 thoughts on “On a Personal Note

  1. The more you delve into analytics, the more you begin to view sports as a zero-sum challenge. It becomes less about the laundry and more about the philosophy of how to win the game. You will begin to appreciate the means more than the end and the game becomes more important while the laundry fades.

    Or, the laundry becomes nothing more than a way to categorize those who play the game the way our studies deem it appropriate to be played.

    How many people were able to enjoy the films of Roman Polanski or the poetry of Allen Ginsburg knowing full well their crimes against fellow humans who were scarcely able to defend themselves?

    The point is that it doesn’t matter any more. We can watch and love the game with either hemisphere of our brains. Or both.

  2. I appreciate your comments and feel the same way. Love the sport; love the game; but, the culture creeps me out. Too many incidents lately involving hockey players hurting women. I really thought hockey players were better than that. That was my delusion. I hope that fans band together and put pressure on the NHL. That’s a start.

    • The only pressure the NHL ever feels is at the box office. If you can get fans to care enough about ‘domestic dustups’ (the true details of which WE ARE NEVER PRIVY TO) to vote with their feet & wallets, then good on you. None of the league’s lockouts, ticket price increases, or advertising pollution has ever gotten fans to stay away before, so I kinda think you’re SOL here.

      Suppose the NHL had the skills to be the players’ Nanny. If they were allowed to assume such a role, it would mean the players aren’t the tough-guy warriors we thought they were, and a ticket to an NHL game wouldn’t be worth a plug nickel. Catch-22.

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