God I’m sick of hockey. A bit surprised I’m saying that. But I am. I’m sick of hockey. It feels good to say that, and I’ve been saying it a lot. Funnily enough, I’ve found a lot of Canadians (the maddest of the hockey-mad) actually agree with me on this.
Why am I sick of hockey? Why are we sick of hockey? Because it is on all. The fucking. Time. I mean seriously, even in the off-season Canadian sports news is dominated by the hockey. They talk about the upcoming draft season, changes to coaches and managers, replay “classic” games and, going by one muted exchange I tried to interpret while having a beer at a bar in Gastown, what brand of underwear one particularly bearded player wore beneath his uniform (it was an unusual sequence of images). Then there’s the draft, and that’s all anyone gives a shit about for a couple of weeks (especially as far too many people for my liking begin to construct fantasy teams). Then there’s the pre-season, which is where a bunch of the new players try to prove themselves by playing extra hard while the old players try to avoid injury by playing extra carefully. Then the season proper starts, which is about a month old about now, and that’ll go until the Stanley cup finals in, like, fucking May.
It goes from the middle of autumn to the beginning of summer. Then you get maybe two months where they’re just talking about the upcoming season and replaying old games and greatest hits, then the draft begins again.
The thing that gets me though, the thing that really gets me, is just how many games are on. Seriously, check out the NHL schedule for the regular season. There is a game, usually more than one, sometimes more than a half dozen, every fucking day except for a couple around Christmas and the like.
I was out the other night, having a drink at one of my usual spots. And the hockey was on, a couple of knots of people watching as the Canucks were being beaten by a team called the Penguins (I can’t help but feel like naming a team playing an exclusively Northern Hemisphere sport after an exclusively Southern Hemisphere type of bird is a little ridiculous). I asked the bartender if it’d cause a riot to change one of the TVs over to the cricket (Australia was spanking New Zealand in the first test at the time). She nodded seriously and said “probably.”
The game cut to commercial, then cut back with one of those… infographics I think they’re called? Just graphics? Anyway, bright red letters flew across the screen proclaiming “WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOCKEY” and I just began to crack up. Do they do that for every game? There was hockey on Tuesday, there’d be hockey on Sunday, there’d be hockey on Thursday, there’s hockey on every day. Did the person in charge of the graphics ever get it wrong? Did they ever forget to change it or had “[Insert weekday here] NIGHT HOCKEY” flashed up on people’s televisions by accident? So many questions, none of them I have any interest in learning the answers to.
Now I understand sports fandom. I’m an Aussie. We get it. And I’d guess that other countries have just as much of a problem with football (soccer). Shit, I’ve known a few people to care just a little too much about the Rugby League or AFL. But even the most diehard Rabbitohs fans would start to get bored if their team was playing every two or three days. Yes, even Russell Crowe. There’s just such an oversaturation of hockey that it’s become boring.
So yeah, I’m sick of hockey. And that’s a shame because, while I never developed any emotional investment in who wins or loses, I enjoyed watching the barely controlled chaos and violence.
And, hell, maybe if they actually paid proper attention to some other sports they might be able to field a decent rugby team.