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26 March 2012 @ 11:39 am
The Reluctant Introvert Goes to a Hockey Game!  
Fandom takes you to strange places. You find yourself, for instance, in Lawrence, Kansas. Or you find yourself bidding a lot of money on a small piece of molded plastic on eBay. Or you find yourself waiting in line at four in the afternoon for a movie that isn't showing until midnight.

On March 25th, fandom took me to a hockey game. dramaturgca courageously volunteered to accompany me, and since she is an actual fan of the Ducks and I am not a fan of the Ducks or anyone they had left to play at that point, we picked a game based on convenience to us. Which left us watching the Ducks vs. the Bruins.

Keep in mind that I am a huge introvert who has problems with crowds and loud noises and bright lights and people too close to me, and thus am perhaps the person who should least go to a hockey game. I mean ever. If you had to choose between taking an elephant to a hockey game and taking me, most wise people would choose the elephant.

But I went. And I had a really good time. And since I solicited advice from you all for this, I'm going to offer you my observations. As a very pathetic sort of thank you, basically. (Yes, I know you'd rather have a card. Next year, I swear.)

Here's what I learned.
  1. Hockey is better and easier to follow live. It just is. By an almost incalculable amount. I was worried about being able to see the puck, being able to follow the game without the TV replays, being able to figure out what the hell was going on without being able to back the game up. That turned out not to be an issue at all. There actually are replays of key moments, because of the Jumbotron, which is a torture device we will discuss in a moment, but it's obvious what's going on on the ice, because you can see what everyone is doing. Not just whoever has the puck. It's also hugely obvious, watching a game, what problems a team is having; you don't need to be told that a team has a turnover problem, because you can see that they're constantly giving the puck to the other team. Basically, you can see stuff instead of hearing people tell you what you'd be seeing if you were there! It's awesome.

  2. Hockey games are loud. Oh god, I cannot adequately convey to you how fucking loud it is, and I was attending a Ducks game late in a season in which they are no longer in playoff contention. Also, it was absolutely sheeting rain outside, and this is Southern California, so a lot of the season ticket holders stayed home out of fear they would melt. (It was supposed to be sold out, standing room only, but there were lots of empty chunks.) And yet. So, so loud. Screaming fans! Super-loud music! Piercing whistles! Random sound effects! And then each period, as the game got closer to the end and the crowd got drunker, it got louder. Somewhere in the middle of the second period, my ears started to surrender, and my conversations with dramaturgca all began to sound like this:

    D: [A thing.]
    Me: Sorry, what?
    Me: Um, still couldn't hear you.
    Me, wondering if it is safe to pat a disappointed hockey fan in a sympathetic manner and deciding probably not: There, there.

    My point is, it's tough to angst when no one can hear you, and in a hockey game, there is a lot of angst, but no one can ever hear you.

  3. The Jumbotron is a work of pure evil. I had never seen one before, because of my scrupulous lifelong avoidance of any situation in which a Jumbotron could conceivably be appropriate, and it is a GIANT MULTI-SIDED TV IN THE SKY. (If you've only ever seen hockey in streaming or whatever, you've probably wondered why players on the bench and in the box spend so much time staring up. They're staring at the Jumbotron, hypnotized.) Which provides useful information, yes, but also does horrible things like provide giant closeups on random members of the audience, some of whom are eating. (Or texting. Or waving frantically to get the attention of the Jumbotron God, for reasons that are still totally unclear to me.) It's awful.

  4. Hockey games are - pretty cheesy. Like, they sort of hide this from you in TV coverage? But in actual reality, once the TV coverage goes to commercial, they play terrible covers of songs from two decades ago, and they have these weird halftime competitions where, like, they pull random kids from the audience and have them hit pucks into circles, and the Ducks have a little dirigible that flies around inside the stadium and drops coupons for things no one wants coupons for on random audience members. (Half of them react like a coupon is the last item they need on their scavenger hunt, and half of them keep texting.) They have unfortunately dressed audience members (including a complete loon who sat near us and who we tried to ignore because we were afraid if we made eye contact we'd catch something). They have these competitions where fans sing or dance, which lead to contact embarrassment so severe I had to stare at my feet for them. So, basically, we're talking about fifteen or twenty thousand people who get together one evening to be total dorks. It's frankly adorable.

  5. Live hockey games have energy. Even if you didn't care at all about either team at the start of it, by the middle of the second period, you totally would, because it turns out that kind of caring is contagious. I found myself genuinely incensed that the refs, who it goes without saying sucked donkey balls, took a goal away from the Ducks for goalie interference when there was obviously no goalie interference. (Seriously, go watch that - I mean it! - and then know that at the time, I cared about that specific event more deeply than I cared about 90% of the votes I cast in the last election. The noise you're hearing in the background there? I was one of the people making it.) And I am not a joiner, mind you. I assume if you were the kind of person who actually chanted because everyone else was chanting, you would spend most of every hockey game totally high on the energy of people around you. (I assume this is why they design the parking lots to have looooooong waits to get out, so that you can come down from that high before you get out on the freeway and start, you know, driving to the net.) As it was, I smiled a LOT.

  6. Fangirls watch hockey differently than other fans. I mean, no, not in terms of what we actually see, but - okay. I was between dramaturgca and a random dude, both of whom were vocal Ducks fans. They both reacted the same way to the situation on the ice, but they sounded different. The random dude talked to the team like they were drivers on the freeway who were cutting him off and had maybe also fucked his mother. dramaturgca talked to the team like they were puppies who just did not understand that they were not supposed to pee on the carpet, but could probably learn to potty outside with lots of help. (Yes, I would like to get a comparison sample from when the team is winning.) It sounded like this:

    [The Ducks have the puck and are heading towards the Bruins' goal!]
    Random Dude, in a tone of intense aggravation: Come on, you fuckers, just - just GO, just GET IT - OH FUCK YOU.
    D, in a peppy, high-pitched tone: Come on, sweeties, come on, you can do it, babies, you just - AUGH.

    Because of this, I spent some of the evening working hard not to laugh. I think hockey on TV would be greatly improved if you had Sugar Announcer ("They're really trying hard! Harder than they did last time! Awwww, isn't that CUTE?") and Bastard Announcer ("If these assholes don't stop blocking their own shooting lanes, I'm going to go down there myself and start punching them in the junk.") instead of the burbling idiots they generally have talk over everything interesting happening in the game. (Opinions, I have them. Best Beloved is laughing at me right now.)

  7. If you go to a hockey game - and I think you should! - try to go with someone who has been there before. Because dramaturgca has been going to games at Honda Center for years, she was able to pick out good seats (great seats, even!) and then navigate us to them with a minimum of difficulty. She also drove there and dealt with the parking mess. Basically, she went to a game and sort of carried me along with her. It was great.
It was, overall, a wonderful night, and I am already planning to go back next year. I am apparently determined to become the country's least-likely hockey fan. (Sadly, I can't compete on the international level, because I have friends in countries that basically don't even have skating rinks who are finding themselves inexplicably drawn to hockey. That's hardcore.)

Or, to sum up: Hockey. YAY.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Pet: HK Kaner Smileapetslife on March 26th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness. Hockey is SO MUCH BETTER LIVE. Almost inexpressably so, because there are so many little things that go into it. Half the time the action is so fast that it feels like the camera is scrambling to keep up, or is left hopelessly behind. You miss half the good stuff. There's no full-ice visual, like you mentioned! I became a Hawks fan after going to a bunch of games when I spent half a year in Chicago, and until the recent hockey fandom faceplant, I had kind of fallen out of it, because I could only really watch games on TV.

(not actually true anymore, since we do have a local minor league team, the Crunch, which is, ironically, an affiliate of the Ducks. Despite the fact that we're 3000 miles from Anaheim. But still, it's hard when you never get to see YOUR team live!).

YAY HOCKEY! So glad you had fun, that sounds AMAZING. :D
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Geno/Sid Good Luckthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
On the ride there, D was talking about how she yearns for season tickets, and I was like - I love hockey, yes, but that seems like too much. (And it would be, because, I mean, that's a lot of games, and I have a small child who would LOATHE the experience.) But on the way home, I totally got why you'd want to do this 41 times a year.

It was totally amazing. YAY HOCKEY indeed!
Jonathan Toews does not want a sandwich.svmadelyn on March 26th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
I love lively hockey games. It's terrible when you're sitting there losing, but there's always that dim hope that you'll come from behind and lose your mind with it. I love games with the hardcore rivalries; they're weirdly cathartic. I would totally take you to a Blackhawks game sometime, if you are ever in Chi-town when one's going on. You can listen to me tell Kaner he's awesome and magical and pep talk him from afar.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Price/Subbanthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
Maaaaan, I would love going to a Chicago game. *yearning* And live hockey is SO GREAT. I don't know why I didn't listen to you when you told me this like two years ago.
(no subject) - svmadelyn on March 26th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Clever Manka: freakoutclevermanka on March 26th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
I'm in Lawrence, Kansas, and I don't follow sports very much. Your second sentence made me think "Wait--we have a hockey team?" for about half a second.

So glad you had a good time, even if you didn't actually find yourself in Lawrence, Kansas.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Super Sidthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Hee. I'm sure Lawrence would be an awesome place to visit! (Although the odds of me finding myself in Kansas are probably slim.) Hockey might be more fun, though.
Sorisori1773 on March 26th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
The cheesiness of hockey games is the BEST ever. We go to a steady stream of ECHL games locally and one of my favorite things..the strobe lights and music for the referees warm up skate. *millions of hearts* The refs!! HA! (and...umm...the space cowboy music -- FIREFLY music, no lie -- they play when the team walks out of the locker room.) I don't even know -- it's HOCKEY!
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Geno/Sid Good Luckthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
Awwww. Strobe lights for referee warm ups! That is adorable. (I have no idea what the warm ups look like at our games, because thanks to the INCREDIBLE RAIN we were in traffic while they were warming up.)

And, oh, FIREFLY music, that is just fantastic. I totally love your team already.
Imaginary Researcher: Indiana Jones - miggyhannahrorlove on March 26th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not a big sports fan, and I'd still rather haul myself out to a stadium rather than stay cooped up inside watching it on TV - largely for the first item on your list. I saw a critique of televised football a while back which argued that the camera's sole focus on the ball was detrimental to viewers' understanding of the game because it ignored everything else happening on the field. It's kind of nice to know that carries over into other sports, and gives me some back-up for arguments.

Although it still doesn't rule out the radio, and now that I think about it, it'd be a lot of fun to do dishes to baseball and hockey games.

Also, I'm still convinced the Pittsburgh Penguins need to bring out actual penguins during the breaks when they're playing home games, before they smooth down the ice. Come on - they've got a whole bunch of them right at the aviary. It'd be like a built-in Puppy Bowl. Ratings would jump almost as much as the addition of the Sugar and Bastard Announcers.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Super Sidthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
I have never listened to hockey on the radio! A THOUGHT. Although it would be super-weird not to be able to SEE stuff.

And, god, YES. Real live actual penguins would be the perfect break entertainment.
(no subject) - starfishchick on March 26th, 2012 10:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - madmaxmaddison on March 27th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - delurker on March 27th, 2012 11:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
eglantine_breglantine_br on March 26th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
When i go to live sports games I bring a book. I don't read it the whole time, but it is there if I need it. If the book is interesting, I can tune out the environment around me.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Geno/Sid Good Luckthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
I brought my Kindle! I didn't end up using it, though. (And I have no idea if I could have tuned out that much noise and light and energy or not, but I am really glad I didn't want to!)
lexstar29 on March 26th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
I miss live games so much! My love of the sport stems entirely from the fact that I lived for a time near where the Canucks played and they had sucked for so long that tickets each week were very, very cheap. It started as something to do that I had not done before but after one game I was hooked. Of course over the next few years they did better, (contextually speaking) and ticket prices went through the roof so even if I did still live there I'd have to sell body parts to go but still!

I look forward to more of your hockey posts.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Price/Subbanthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
I had no idea tickets got CHEAP if your team sucked! A THING TO KNOW. Um, not that I want the Ducks or the Kings to start sucking that badly.

And I hope you live near hockey again soon. (And also have lots of money so you can go without selling body parts.)
(no subject) - misspamela on March 26th, 2012 11:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dramaturgca on March 27th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
caress your associative mind: Canada heartmindyfromohio on March 26th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
I call going to Bruins games "hockey therapy" because where else can I drink lots of beers and scream my head off and bang my head to Rockin' Hits of the 80s? I mean, in public. I mean, in public without people looking at me funny.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Super Sidthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
Everyone should have hockey therapy! Plus, therapy is probably the only thing that could make the tickets look like a bargain.
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tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Geno/Sid Good Luckthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
...How can the Leafs charge so much when they're so terrible? Seems unfair!

My rage is a sign of affection, okay!

misspamela: Tazer - nicolasechsmisspamela on March 26th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Oh yaaaaay! We went to an AHL game this weekend and it was just ridiculously fun! Less wild than a Bruins game, but way, way more cheese. Mr. MissP had never been to a game before and he couldn't believe how much better it was live. The line changes! The crashing into the boards!

We had the little blimp thing going around and all the silliness in between periods too. Utter cheese. I love it.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Price/Subbanthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I'd love to go to an AHL game, but that does not happen in these parts. It'd be totally awesome to compare the cheese factor, though.
lynnmonsterlynnmonster on March 26th, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
Hooray! I'm so glad you got to go!
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Super Sidthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
Me tooooooooo. It was such fun!
the pirate queen of norwayashkitty on March 26th, 2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
Basically all sports are better live than on TV. There's so much energy and vibrancy to it that watching it on a screen just doesn't manage to match. If live is not an option (because tickets are too expensive or the game is in New Zealand or something) then watching it in a pub is also fun, but this might just be in Wales, because I hated sports bars at home. Not that I go to sports bars here, but my regular local turns into one when there is rugby on. People SING.
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Geno/Sid Good Luckthefourthvine on March 26th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
...Okay, I have to ask: WHAT do they sing? Are there, I don't know, rugby songs?
(no subject) - ashkitty on March 26th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 27th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty on March 27th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - delurker on March 27th, 2012 11:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
One Whose Honesty is Stronger Than Her Fear: notlisteningamilyn on March 26th, 2012 10:17 pm (UTC)
I get actually dizzy in this kind of noise, and find I can communicate better with a NOTEPAD. :-)

I also wear earplugs AND if I ever were to go to a huge THING like this again (the chances are low...), I would add shooting earmuffs OVER the earplugs to make it that much quieter.

I'm SO glad you had fun! And the "random dude" vs. fangirl cheering...hilarious!
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Price/Subbanthefourthvine on March 27th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
Oooh. Notepad. We should have done that! Or texted, I guess. That would have worked. Hey, maybe that's why everyone else had their phones out!
(no subject) - amilyn on March 27th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 27th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
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tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Super Sidthefourthvine on March 27th, 2012 12:10 am (UTC)
I TOTALLY GET WHY NOW. I mean, if you ever had to get a lot of energy together to do magic, clearly your best bet would be a major league hockey game. IT IS JUST THAT ENERGETIC.
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(no subject) - thefourthvine on March 27th, 2012 12:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Hockey Geno/Sid Good Luckthefourthvine on March 27th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)