Saturday, April 30th, 2016



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.

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8 Responses to “Embarrassed”
  1. IAmJoe says:

    Wow. 100% agree, I’ve been trying to think of a way to put it, and that’s it.

  2. beingbobbyorr says:

    I’m embarrassed that hockey fans didn’t grasp the most fundamental of economic principles back in 2005: the behavior you reward today is the behavior you’ll get more of tomorrow . . . . and sure enough, our quick return that fall surely helped embolden The Dark Gnome that he could repeat this exercise with impunity in 2012.

    Will fans discover this economic principle in 2013? I doubt it. I expect the attendance attenuation for this “season” to be minimal, and more due to the random dispersal of our attentions elsewhere . . . . as opposed to a deliberate boycott to punish the HIC (Hockey Industrial Complex) for taking their customers for granted.

    I am, however, proud that I will be conducting an intentional de-patronization. I’ve learned to live without being inside an NHL barn, and al-Qaeda will be getting my $10k/year before I sign-up for another season seat subscription with the hometown colours.

    • Tom says:

      I haven’t spent any money directly on the NHL since 2004 but I think you overestimate our power in this respect at least in the short run. The corporate sponsorship and ticket buying won’t stop and I’ll almost certainly be watching on opening night.

      That said, the fact that I’m not going to ignore the league and really punish the assholes who foisted this fiasco on us is the embarassing part. We’re slaves to the things we love.

      • beingbobbyorr says:

        In years past, I’d respond by saying “The Hockey fan can’t afford the Tom Benjamin’s (and Tyler Dellow’s) of the world to ‘ignore the league’; we need you to keep us all honest.”

        But, if the fan is incorrigibly irrational, then I can’t really see any reason to hope anymore. What do you see as the role of your blog, Tom (both when you started it vs. now)? Can it be anything more than a safety valve for your own mental health? And, if so, how does it work as a safety valve if you’re just pissing into the wind?

        Now, don’t get me wrongly: I love reading your essays & want you to continue. I’ll gladly listen to the sound of your stream navigating the eddies within the gale created by The Dark Gnome’s farts. I just don’t know how you do it anymore. Don Quixote, redux?

        • Tom says:

          People are, generally speaking, irrational. We make most decisions without thinking about them and after the fact invent reasons for the decision. I certainly don’t expect that most fans will quit being fans because they are tired of being taken for granted and exploited. Most fans will turn a blind eye to the abuse and – eventually – forgive and forget. Sometimes the market does not respond the way it should to corporate incompetence.

          I don’t see any role for the blog. I’ve always known I was pissing into the wind. Tilting at windmills. I started doing it for fun. Recently it has been mostly habit. If I didn’t think it will eventually be fun again, I’d quit.

  3. James Mirtle says:

    Embarrassing to make your living around the game, too, sometimes. At least fans can leave…

    • Tom says:

      I don’t think anybody should be embarassed to be doing their best in any job and I think you have done a really good job. Seriously. I expressed skepticism when you told me that the coverage was going to be a lot better this time around but it has been, particularly at your paper. (At least it was until I pretty much gave up reading about it. I actually went weeks without thinking about the NHL. Got a lot of real reading done.)


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