Jenny Wren, a frequent poet/commenter over at Pass it to Bulis, sums up the feelings of a lot of hockey fans – including me – with her latest little ditty:
While I admit some gratitude
Fuck you remains my attitude
Although I love to see them play
My distaste still is in the way
Corporate sponsors players too
And most of all the owners knew
That from their games I’d not abstain
Although I watch with much distain
I wish I could with Whisky Jack
Just stay away and not come back
Remove my flags from both my trucks
And nevermore cheer the Canucks
Because that’s not how things will be
I find I am ashamed of me
It should be easy to be a hockey fan. The sport is fast, furious, and thoroughly entertaining. The athletes exhibit great skill, courage and character. The sport has a rich history, storied franchises, and – at least in Canada – deep cultural roots. It should be easy to be a fan even if it is nothing more than hoping that the home team is – this year, finally, – favoured by randomness.
Instead of being easy, it is very hard these days. Lou Lamoriello declared he was “embarrassed” by the lockout (and so he should be), but the league should be far more worried about the fact that the Jenny Wrens of the world are embarrassed to be hockey fans. Even before the recent fiasco, we have been forced to defend fighting and gratuitous violence while witnessing horrific injuries. We are supposed to think it is okay when guys like Daryl Katz try to jerk luxurious arenas out of a city. It’s okay that taxpayer subsidized corporate ticket buyers drive up the price of hockey for everyone else and when cable companies force a sports tax on nonfans. And, well, if the owners think they aren’t getting enough bucks, they take their puck and go home. Is there another industry where I love the product while despising the owners, the commissioner and the administration that delivers the product?
I’m a hockey fan. It’s embarrassing.