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This is hockey:
Hockey is a brown horse. You are wearing spandex.
It probably doesn’t suit you, and neither does that helmet. While we’re here, what’s up with those purple pants? Who let you leave the house looking like that?
But let’s move on. Your favorite sport is a large mammal that wants to devour your flesh. There are clearly more pressing things happening right now.
For some, horses are special growing up. The stereotypical gift of a pony for your birthday, or the mythical unicorn. Horse-like creatures can dominate a childhood if you’re not careful. They can also crap all over the place, eat your birthday cake and bite your supple flesh no matter how many sugar cubes you feed Mr. Ed.
There is a risk/reward equation involved here that’s too complicated for you to understand when you fall in love with the beauty and majesty of your hockey horse. No one tells you there are more popular forms of transportation than a white pony all your own. You don’t care for practicality, you’re a soft-headed kid with a developing brain that sees something and falls in love with it before you can understand what happened.
That’s why hockey is a horse that wants to kill you, or at the very least punish you for having questionable fashion sense. For many people, hockey becomes a part of them far too early to comprehend. It draws you close, seizes upon your base emotions and never lets go.
It doesn’t matter why. Maybe the breathtaking speed of the game captivated you when an uncle took you to your first live game. Your brothers played and you followed suit. It was cold as shit in your hometown and learning to skate was the only way to survive extended periods outdoors.
The reasons are irrelevant, but the feelings of attraction are ubiquitous. I know fans that fell in love when they were six and others that fell for hockey when they turned 36. Something happens in your brain with this sport you cannot explain. The sense of community, of intimacy, of hope and joy and all those base human emotions that cause poets to write and painters to paint; it all somehow manifests in physical form on a sheet of ice.
So there you are, arms outstretched to that horse you love so much. Here comes the pain. Your favorite team is not good and will never win anything. There will be embarrassing losses and your owner may go to prison. Fix your arena or we’re moving to Seattle. You’re going to get bit, and it will hurt. Pain is part of the game, something you don’t learn until it’s far too late.
Or, worse yet, your favorite sport decides the economics of it all are a bit fuzzy and shuts the whole show down for a bit. How does every seven years or so sound? Bad? Tough. Chomp chomp. You taste like chicken.
Horses are beautiful, majestic animals that have many uses to human beings. They also dropped so much manure on our city streets that people welcomed the choking air and sprawl that the age of automobiles brought society. In short: you take the good with the bad, and the good can be so, so good.
Really. Hockey is a wonderful and worthy endeavor. The juice, as they say in the talkies, is worth the squeeze. Just know that you’re going to bleed every now and again. It’s okay, you’ll fit right in around here.