Ok, I get it now.
I’ve never been a sports fan. Why? I’m not really sure. I just never cared. I didn’t. I mean, I could lie and feign excitement, but, speaking honestly, regardless of what I was watching, I was never a full-fledged fan. If there were 20 strangers playing a game, I never cared which 10 won. Most kids grew up loving baseball and football, I grew up loving skateboarding and comedy, the latter of which is how I now make my living. Some little kids dreamt of getting tickets to the Super Bowl, I wanted to see a taping of Saturday Night Live. For better or worse, save for a brief basketball phase, that’s just how it was. And even then, if the Knicks lost every goddamn game they played, I never really cared.
But then, last spring, at 32-years-old, my lifelong tradition of not giving a shit ended. Why did it end? Well, I discovered playoff hockey. Honest to God, I never truly watched an entire hockey game prior to this enlightenment. I’ve played hockey on countless video game systems, but, no, I never watched a televised game in its entirety. And I’m man enough to eat my words and admit my own shortsightedness. Playoff hockey is absolutely, irrefutably, exciting as all hell. I have a few good friends who are diehard, lifelong Ranger fans. So it was through them that I discovered thathockey, particularly playoff hockey, is completely badass.
Derek Stepan has balls big enough to have his jaw broken, talk trash, and continue playing. Henrik Lundqvist is a beast! Yes, after decades of famously not caring, I found myself pounding beers and jumping out of my chair as I watched the aforementioned Rangers get their collective asses handed to them by Los Angeles. And while doing so, now only was I having a phenomenal damn time, but I developed a genuine appreciation for the game.
Being proven wrong is a great thing. It just means you like something new. And while I find baseball games tedious and boring, and while I could give a crap less about golf, NASCAR or the majority of ESPN’s programming, I’ll be back next hockeyseason. I’m now a fan. I am.
No other sport could do it, but hockey could. It cracked me. •