By the simple act of reading this column, you’ve confirmed yourself to be a hockey fan. And you probably want to be the best hockey fan you can be, right? Of course you do. This is why you’re going want to heed the advice on being a better hockey fan I’m about to lay out for you in the words that follow these ones.
Right off the hop, I want to speak directly to each and every one of you fans who is compelled to pound on the glass at ice level whenever the play or a camera is in your vicinity. And here’s what I want to say: Stop doing that. There’s no need for it. You’re not affecting the play or the players, other than to make them embarrassed for you. When I watch you banging your fists and palms, it makes me think only one of two things could be going on: some voice inside your head has convinced you that you’re trapped behind the glass and you’re desperately attempting to “escape”; or you’re proudly demonstrating to the world your brain still has the ability to control your arm movements. Either way, this doesn’t reflect well on you or fans in general.
It also doesn’t reflect well on you or any fan if you’ve stooped to doing The Wave.
And before you get started, you can spare me all your pro-Wave populist propaganda about getting people out of their seats and enjoying a little exercise during slow points of a game. Any self-respecting fan refuses to do The Wave for good reason. Do you know why? Because you know what you can’t do when you’re constantly standing up and sitting down and watching everybody else stand up and sit down like an unimaginative group of line dancers? Watch the game. Doing The Wave is like going to the movies and doing jumping jacks and burpees after the opening credits and every 15 minutes thereafter. And remember this most of all: it’s bad enough just participating in The Wave – but if you’re a ringleader of The Wave, know that we’re coming for you.
We’re also coming for you if you’re one of the dreaded Oblivious/Obnoxious Fans. You know the type: if he (and yes, it’s almost always a he) isn’t careening through your row to get to his seat – not apologizing for turning your feet into the giant piano Tom Hanks used in the movie “Big” and/or kicking over your beer and popcorn all the while – he’s walking through the row above you spilling beer (and yes, it’s almost always beer) on your head. And if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s talking loudly and ignorantly on his cellphone during game action, or dropping F-bombs when there are little kids within earshot. Have a little care and consideration for the people around you, for Gretzky’s sake. Unless you’re some sort of louse, why wouldn’t you?
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no question you’re a louse – in addition to a legitimate criminal masquerading as a fan – if you’re one of these wretched souls who brings a laser pointer to a game and shines it into people's eyes. It’s not far-fetched to suggest there are human beings (and I use that term loosely) thick enough to do this: it’s already occurred at an NHL game in Vancouver in 2010 and it happened again this year in Montreal. Protecting people from the permanent damage that can be wrought with these weapons demands punishments for those who’d be so reckless as to use them.
Now, you can call this threat-based persuasion on my behalf, but rest assured I do it from a place of love. I want as many people as possible to enjoy the game, and all I know is if you’re banging on the glass, doing The Wave, boorishly infringing on the joy of those around you and/or risking the physical well-being of anyone in attendance with you, you’re taking away from the game.
And the best hockey fans always add to the sport they’re there to watch.