What Hockey Means To Me
April 29, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Childhood Stories, Sports


For anyone who questions a man’s emotional attachment to sports, imagine this:

A 14-year old boy sits at home on a Wednesday night waiting for a hockey game to start. Twenty minutes before the puck drops, he’s setting up a shrine in front of the television. Pucks, hats, jerseys, action figures, keychains, trading cards and an oversized blanket, all with the team logo, cover the entire living room floor. There’s nowhere to walk. There’s no need to. He’ll be spending the next 3.5 hours on the couch, nervously biting his nails while he sits at the edge of the seat cushion, in a jersey that means more to him than any girl he’s ever had a crush on.

Like Snoop says, he is I and I am him.

It was hard, growing up in Miami when my favorite hockey team played in Chicago. The games were never on TV, so the only way I knew what the hell was going on, was through the sports section of the newspaper. That’s like not being able to watch your favorite TV show, but keeping up with it by reading the three-sentence blurb DirecTV gives you when you press the info button. You can understand then, why I would try and make the most of it when they were on television.

Hence, my shrine.

But, it didn’t just stop at the festive decorating of my parent’s living room. No, there was a specific way to sit on the couch, depending on the period and score. There was a certain voodoo doll for a certain player that a certain mother helped me sew. And I definitely wouldn’t speak to anybody while the game was on. Not in person, not on the phone, not even in grunts and heavy breathing. Complete silence. There were times my best friend–and current girlfriend–would call, and I’d just hold the phone to my ear while I watched the game. I didn’t speak. She didn’t speak. (And she never hung up, either. That, my friends, is a keeper.)

It’s been 13 years since I was that fanatical about the Blackhawks; mostly because that’s the last time they were really any good. Being irrelevant for such a long period of time kinda makes you forget how amazing fandom is, at points.

On Monday night, for the first time in over a decade, the Hawks won a playoff series. And, though there weren’t a million trinkets lining the living room floor of my apartment, I sat on the couch, in the same odd, superstitious manner I used to when the calendar read 1996, and I became an awestruck 14-year old boy again.

No matter how difficult a man’s life has become, he can always go back to his happy place through the magic of sports. Never question that.

But if that does fail, there’s always porn.


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