The Pro Hockey Game
I went to my first hockey game the other day. I’m not exactly
sure why we are playing this Canadian sport here in the South, but it
seems to have caught on. We even have our own pro team here in
Nashville called the Predators. They play in our newest Nashville
arena, the Gaylord Center. Their logo is a funny looking cat with
Dracula-like fangs. It is supposed to be a saber tooth tiger, I guess.
Anyhow, the Preds played pretty well, or the Penguins played pretty
badly, cause the Preds smeared ‘em 5-0. According to my friend, who
understands the game and sprung for the tickets, it was because the
Penguins did not have their regular goalie. Sounds like a
rationalization to me, but no sense rubbing in a loss.
At first I half expected the players to go into a Double Axel or a
Triple Salchow, but it never happened. They sat on the ice and
stretched their legs then skated around hitting the puck with their
sticks. They seemed to be having a lot more fun down there on the ice
than I was having, so high up in the stands I was dizzy from the thin
The thing I really liked was that I could actually see the puck. On
TV I never can. I really can’t understand what my friend sees in the
game, but then he is a man and men like all sorts of dumb things, like
football, for example.
Hockey is a little bit like football and a little bit like
basketball, and a whole lot like soccer – except different. I
learned to passionately hate hockey in a northern high school where I
was forced to play field hockey in girls’ physical education. We ran
up and down that stupid field, freezing to death in our blue bloomer
gym suits and ugly shin guards, with our hair flying, noses running,
and hockey sticks dragging.
Exercise was supposed to be good for us. Also, the School Board
sprung to buy that expensive equipment and, by golly, it was gonna be
used! But that was in the "bad old days." Ice hockey, of
course, is much faster, which makes it a different sport entirely.
They seemed to do a lot of banging into each other on skates,
pushing, shoving, elbowing and generally rough housing. This sometimes
resulted in the players forgetting about the game and just resorting
to fist fights. The referees seemed to generally just let ‘em slug
it out and then send them both to the penalty box to cool down, like
kids in time out.
The audience liked the fights better than the game. Sometimes minor
shoving incidents turned into fights and more serious pushing matches
went unnoticed. There was not a lot of logic as to what was worth
fighting over. My friend says it depends on the players, some are
fighters and some are not and sometimes fights can just result from
Anyhow, I munched popcorn and watched the overhead screen, which
reminded us to cheer, stomp, or whatever was deemed appropriate for
the occasion. Like all pro sports nowadays, the game itself is not
considered entertaining enough to amuse the audience for long.
The main focus was the big overhead screen, which also shot
pictures of fans being fans. The fans liked to ham it up for the
camera as soon as they saw their mugs on the screen. I could not
figure out where all those yokels were that were kissing and waving to
the folks in the audience and began to suspect they were pre-recorded,
at least in part.
Some people really got into it. They had season tickets and knew
all the other season ticket holders. They screamed for every goal and
cheered like it really mattered who won. Guess that is what it was all
about, feeling like they are a part of something, and having the
catharsis of cheering and yelling.
I did manage to pass by the T-Shirts without buying one, but I did
not turn down the free promotional posters that were being passed out.
Who knows, in the unlikely event that I ever do actually become a
hockey fan, it might just come in handy.
Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss