The impact of sports goes beyond the game itself. It creates friendships and bonds that are like no other. There are always stories of inner city youth who use sports as an alternate route to avoid getting in to trouble. Hey, what about the fans? Don’t they sacrifice a lot? As a fan myself, I can say that fans do have to make sacrifice. Fans are asked by the organization to support them in ways such as renewing tickets, purchasing beverages for outrageously high prices, etc. They are asked to be patient with the club and watch their team suffer. And sometimes, fans are sort of forgotten.
Hockey has a sense of unity that is unique in its own little way which is quite humbling. As I accompany my father to Jets games, the energy in the building is electric. The atmosphere is magnificent. Then within 5 minutes into the game, fans become frustrated. Cussing is being heard, fans are tense and at this point the mood has become sour. This game does strange things-some good and some bad. The so-called “Hockey Gods” have a way of putting fans through adversity. For example, the NHL left Winnipeg in 1996 and then later returned in 2011. Fans had felt that in the Honeymoon Stage, wins didn’t matter but the sole importance was the returning of the NHL. But then fans become tired and begin to get sick and tired of hearing:
“We are rebuilding; draft and develop is the way to become successful.”
Building a hockey team is a slow process, one that can lose the attention of some fans. If you look at the Jets, they are a rather quiet team in the NHL. You never see them making the blockbuster trade that is the hot topic in the sports world. They don’t spend lavish amounts of money on Free Agents in the summer. They finish every year on the bubble and stay under the radar rather quietly. But yet again, fans are asked to stay quiet and trust the Jets management. The life of a fan is not chronicled in detail simply because there are different types of fans. Dallas Eakin, the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, became frustrated at Edmonton fans because a certain fan decided to throw his/her jersey on to the ice after a tough loss. Eakins referred to the fan as a “quitter.” Though I understand the point of view of Eakins, this is an instance where the frustration of a fan has not been acknowledged. Edmonton is a disaster right now and Oilers management has failed to come even close to the glory they experienced in the 1980’s. Fans come to the games, pay $8.00 for one can of beer and are asked to purchase season tickets to watch a team struggle to get out of the basement of the league.
In Winnipeg, fans are beginning to shift from the stage of appreciating the existence of a team in Winnipeg towards anger due to lack of success. I think fans have every right to be frustrated at a team but then again I think fans must learn to be patient and trust a team. The Pittsburgh Penguins fans might seem like the luckiest fans in the world to some people. Although they have had recent successes, the team went through major difficulties until drafting high-end prospects Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre Fluery. The same can be said for the Chicago Blackhawks who were one of the worst franchises in all of sports until they drafted Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Both teams have hoisted the Cup and marched through their respective cities with Lord Stanley.
Times are tough fans, believe me I know. I might write on this site as a blogger who tries to not show bias on certain situations but realistically almost everyone involved in this game deep down inside is a fan of this great game. When the Jets lose I say to myself one of the greatest phrases I have ever heard: “Hockey love hurts.” It really does.
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