I started playing in the league years ago because I missed playing street hockey. I sought out the league for hockey, but like many of us, I found so much more. Among all these great things, something happened to me that I would have never predicted. Over the years I became……a fan.
We may not refer to ourselves as fans, but we are. We watch each other’s games, we cheer each other on, we collect each other’s trading cards (ok, that hasn’t happened yet, but Jerome is working on it). Players can even be seen wearing the shirt of a friend’s team. (This sometimes leads to confusion, since there have been a lot of people switching teams in recent years. But that’s a whole other article.)
I love playing. We all know how much I love playing because I never stop yammering on about playing time. However, in addition to this, I also often realize I am unable to tear myself away from watching the other games. The pinnacle of this occurred during last Sunday’s games, when Gut Rot were playing the-team-formerly-known-as-the-Elves. The only reason I stayed after my game was to watch this specific game. It was rainy, it was cold, it was shitty out. But I stayed, hoping for the upset. I stayed because I’m a Gut Rot fan.
Of course, I’m not the only one. Gut Rot is the team everybody loves to love. This was never more apparent than during this game. As the game progressed, a crowd started to gather. Then that crowd got bigger. Murmurs of “Wait, this game is tied up at 1-1, what??” passed through the crowd. People started to cheer, people started to heckle. People freaked out when Gut Rot went ahead 2-1, and we all freaked out even more when the final whistle blew, signaling the glorious victory.
The fact of the matter is, being a BTSH fan is so much better than being a fan of an NHL team. It’s better because you KNOW these people. How great is it when you see someone who hardly ever scores notch a goal? Or a goalie who rarely gets the W making save after ridiculous save? You know one of your friends is having a rough week, and you witness them have a great game, maybe they even get the shootout winner. They forget about their problems, if only for 50 minutes. You cheer for them until your voice is hoarse, and it all makes them elated. And how does it make you feel? You know exactly how it makes you feel. Because you’re a fan, too.
There are few things in life I love more than playing hockey. But cheering on and supporting my friends who play hockey……that has to be one of them.