The NHL is back in business. Whoa, calm down! Is the excitement actually seeping out of every pore of your body, or are you nonchalantly shrugging your shoulders at the announcement like I am?
The absence of this single sport from TV hasn’t been as terrible as some make it out to be.
In fact, I think the NHL’s absence has been wholly positive. Those who claim to miss hockey on TV should reevaluate their priorities in life.
It is just a game, people. Go play the game if you miss it that much — and you don’t have to go to Russia to do it. We have ice and skates right here in Saskatoon.
Begrudgingly, I’ll admit that sports — whether watched or played — often unite people and create a sense of community among fans. A key example is the Roughriders, who have clearly taken over Saskatchewan.
Rider pride even has a hold on my home. My mother and her middle-aged, postmenopausal friends can’t get enough of the Riders. I’d argue they’re actually after hunky, athletic men in tight-fitting clothing, but who am I to judge?
I’m more of an arts person myself, though I’ve played pretty well every sport. Much of my disdain for sports has to do with the fact that my own father spent night after night with his butt parked in front of the TV, watching whatever game might be on when I was just a young lad.
In some cases — perhaps in most — fathers may be able to get their sons obsessed with sports on TV too, but I guess I was a tough nut to crack. There are other things I would have liked to have done with my dad, but didn’t get to because the game was on.
Let this be a note to all parents: not every child likes or wants to have anything to do with sports. Encouraging them to watch or play something they have no interest in won’t help anybody.
Some parents push ballet, others drama or football. I wonder if the best thing one could do as a parent would be to expose your child to anything and everything and then see where they find their niche in the world of sports, the arts or the great outdoors. If your daughter wants to be a quarterback and your son wants to be a dancer, let them thrive.
I’ve digressed, but I want to point out that the absence of one activity gives invitation to others.
What have those who’ve typically spent hours in front of the TV done in lieu of watching NHL games? Perhaps there have been more date nights or more time at the rink actually playing the freakin’ game.
Perhaps the dad with the kid who likes theatre took him or her to a show or two, and realized how great bonding can be when it’s over something mutually enjoyed.
The lockout hasn’t been bad for fans so much as it has been bad for the hockey industry. Perhaps that’s the real problem: hockey has become a business and the true essence of the game has been lost as a result.
Instead of leaving fans with nothing to watch, the loss of the NHL this winter has allowed smaller leagues to gain high-status media attention.
If you’ve truly missed hockey, I’m sorry about the lockout. I’m sorry that you haven’t been able to yell at your TV or share a beer with your TV-watching companion. I’m especially sorry to those who like hockey because it’s their favorite game and pastime. I may not be a fan, but I can appreciate a winter night on the rink, skating and tossing a puck around just like a true hockey junky.
But I hope that those who have traditionally spent a lot of time in front of the TV obsessed with the NHL have invested that time into other aspects of life, areas that have most likely been neglected during previous hockey seasons.
So, major league hockey is back — though I’m not sure it needs to be.
Illustration: Samantha Braun/The Sheaf