Last night was Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s time to shine as the first Hockeyville USA location. The atmosphere was wonderful and the excitement of all the fans in attendance was very clear to see. It was a preseason game, and not all the stars played, but everything seemed to go just perfectly.
This all got me thinking. The Kraft Hockeyville competition is the perfect symbol of the game of hockey all around the United States.
Think about it for a second. How many true hockey fans do you know outside of twitter and the online community? Maybe there’s a few fans you’ve run into at school or work, but the occurrences are certainly nothing like finding football fans. NFL jerseys are worn all over, almost everyone you know plays fantasy football, and you can probably guess how most of your friends are spending their Sundays during football season.
But hockey fans are a special breed. Personally, I did not have any hockey friends until social media and blogging became a part of my life eight years ago. Now I’ve found my community. I can go on twitter any time of day and year and I will see hockey tweets.
Unfortunately, many of us hockey fans have an inferiority complex because of this. We get upset when our sport is ignored on ESPN, when NHL apparel is hard to find in stores, and when the mainstream media considers hockey something that only Canadians care about. We’ll make a point to brag about why our athletes are tougher and our trophies are better. The constant need to defend being hockey fans and the sport of hockey in general is seen so often.
However, the way I look at this after a little epiphany last night reflects something different. For starters, who cares if a lot of people don’t love what you love? Do you enjoy hockey? Does it make you happy? Then don’t worry about what attention it gets. You’re giving it your attention and that’s what matters. Now, this specific epiphany came while reading a motivational book last night but the second epiphany ties into this thanks to the Hockeyville game I had the pleasure of tuning into last night.
Hockey is a community. Us as NHL fans are like the population of a small town. We bump heads over everything because we all like to think we know what’s best for the community and what goes on in it… (Fighting so much over what players can be your favorite, etc.)
But what we should spend more time doing is bonding over our uniqueness and small population. Of course growing the game is huge and I would love to see the NHL get more national attention. But for right now, I am thankful for the community that we are in. We all have been thinking about October getting here and it is just one day away. We watch any game that’s on tv even if it’s a preseason season game starring two teams that we don’t even like. Many of us blog about our opinions. We own shirseys and jerseys of so many players and teams. We are obsessed with any hockey movie. We tailgate the NHL draft. We’re such a crazy bunch, and it can all be seen in our passion on twitter.
I LOVE football, but I feel like people put their favorite team and their fantasy teams as priority. In hockey, I notice that I will watch any game and do that 7 days a week if possible. There’s just something different, and it is why despite my NFL team being 3-0, all I can think about this week is hockey.
I am so thankful to be a part of this small-town community that is being a hockey fan in the United States. Many of us take it for granted and get upset because of it, but it truly is one of my favorite things about the sport of hockey.