Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hockey Game Last Night!

I went to my very first live hockey game last night and I LOVED IT! I didn't think I could love a sports game because I've never loved watching sports games on TV, but I was surprised by how fun it could be. I was also blessed to have watched a winning game for my home team, the Vancouver Canucks. In fact, it was a shut-out game 5 to 0. (A shut-out is when the goalie blocks all the shots and doesn't let anything in all game. I didn't know until last night. )

So what makes a live hockey game so fun? Well, let me tell you what made it so good for me.

First of all, you are surrounded by uber-hockey fans. They jump up, they scream insults at the players, they cheer their players on, and they are so excited about every aspect of the game. These fans create a hype all around you, and it's easy to join in. I did my fair share of gasping at near goals, and it was fun to jump up and yell when there was a winning goal. It's fun to get into the spirit of the event.

Secondly, there are rituals. My home team goalie is Roberto Luongo, and when he blocks a goal, everyone says "Loooooooooooo!" It sounds like "Boooooo", but it's not! And when we won the game, there was a song to sing! It went something like "Oh waaaay, oh waaaaay, oh way-oh way-oh way-oh waaaaaay!" It was the most strange song to sing since it doesn't seem to make sense to me, but it's a victory chant of sorts and everyone sings along to it.

Thirdly, you sing the national anthem. Singing a song together that everyone knows the words to is so liberating. It also creates a sense of unity and community among the fans and players. The actual vocalist on the ice was also very good, and his daughter did a fabulous job of harmonizing.

Fourthly, there are breaks and entertainment intermittently. The game yesterday was sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Board, so there was a lively mariachi band that would get up and play once in a while. There is also a mascot that has a canon and shoots free t-shirts and toys into the audience. He also dances along to the mariachi band and harrasses fans. It's amusing to watch. During one break, two children's hockey leagues played on the ice against each other and it was adorable to watch the mini hockey players (they looked like bugs) zoom around the ice and, most of the time, lose their balance and wipe out. They were sooooo cute!

See? There is so much to amuse at a live hockey game! They also have a giant orca whale balloon that floats around and drops free gift certificates, lots of beer and munchies to buy outside, a 50-50 draw to raise funds for charity, and random games on the big screen like "Who has the best kiss" which zooms in on various couples in the audience encouraging them to smooch. I think the guys are really entertained by the random fights that occur on the ice too. From my view, there was no clear reason for the players to dramatically throw their gloves on the ice and commence fist-fighting, but the audience roared in response and yelled encouragement to the player of their choice. All in all, a very good game to watch.

So, what can I say, I've been converted. I may not like a hockey game on TV, but I LOVE watching live hockey games. They are just so much fun. The tickets are expensive, the parking is a rip-off, the food is highway robbery, but it's great entertainment. What a great business!

As we walked out of the arena, still chanting the Oh-way song, beggars stood around trying to eek out a living and a man in full scottish gear played a bag pipe. Maybe the best part of the game is the brief break from real life.

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