Monday, September 13, 2010

I Just Wanna Have Fun

This is one of those times when I know exactly how I feel and what I'm trying to say but I also know I didn't really capture it very clearly.  I'm posting this anyway though because I'm trying to get back in the habit of blogging somewhat regularly.

My name is Heather B. and I'm excited about Puck Drop and new jerseys.

I've seen a lot of grumbling from both fans and professionals the last week or so about how some fans are so gullible and easily distracted from the quality of the team.  Throw them new jerseys, take their money, and laugh in their faces.  It's an outrage - an OUTRAGE - that Sabres ownership would play that way and it's an outrage - AN OUTRAGE! - that fans would fall for it.

Look, get over yourselves.  Seriously.

Let's be honest.  You and me, the ones who are reading and writing blogs and obssessing over every little breath the Sabres take, we're the freaks.  For each one of us, there are at least 100 fans who couldn't name the general manager, an assistant coach, or a single prospect.  They buy a jersey or a shirt, they turn on the TV or show up at the arena, they watch the players who skate onto the ice, and then they go home.  All they want from the Sabres, maybe even more than winning, is a fun experience, and it makes sense for the Sabres to market themselves to those fans.  I would guess that of the 18,000 people who go to every game there are more casual fans than hardcore fans.  You don't have to like it, I guess, but thems the breaks.  Do you really want to see what the Sabres' budget would be without an influx of money from jersey sales?  I don't think you do.

That criticism is also just annoying.  I'm really excited about the new jerseys.  I can't wait to see them on the players on Saturday.  As soon as I save enough pennies, I'll be buying one.  But I haven't forgotten about the team.  I'm not thrilled with our top six forwards.  I'm a little worried about our defense coming together.  I remain a firm Craig Rivet skeptic despite all the talk about him being 100% healthy.  I wish the line-up had gotten more of a shake-up in the off-season.  I'm perfectly capable of being an excited fan AND an informed fan.  They're not mutually exclusive.

I don't know if things really have gotten more shrill this off-season or if it's always been like this and I just hadn't noticed or been bothered by it before, but it seems like a lot of people are suddenly taking professional sports very, very seriously.  Fans are offended and insulted by the local teams and they're being told they should feel that way by certain media outlets and personalities and well, I don't get it.

By all means, if you're not happy with the product you're getting, stop spending your money.  I got no problem with that.  If I were a football fan, I would have quit watching the Bills years ago, and I understand that some people are there with the Sabres.  But I don't get the drama about it.  I don't love the current Sabres roster but I'm not offended that Tom Golisano wants to make a profit on his investment.  I'm not insulted that Darcy Regier either couldn't get or didn't want any big headline-inducing names here.  The Sabres didn't spit in my face when they bought out Tim Kennedy.  It's just all too serious.  It's sports.  It's entertainment.  I would love, love, love to see the Sabres hoist a Stanley Cup.  Buffalo would have a blast with that.  But it's not going to change my life if they do.  I'm not going to get through college any faster, I'm not going to find a better job, I'm not going to suddenly have a house full of children.  And on the flip side, it's not going to ruin my life if they don't win a championship.  Buffalo is the only pro sports town I've ever lived in (that I remember - those 8 months in Pittsburgh are pretty fuzzy, being an infant and all) so I don't know if it's a sports thing or if it's specifically a Buffalo thing, but Buffalo sometimes wraps way too much of its collective self-worth up in how the sports teams perform.  I don't roll that way.  Golisano not caring about winning doesn't reflect on or hurt me.  Derek Roy and Drew Stafford being satisfied with playing at 60% effort most nights doesn't reflect on or hurt me.  If it does, I'm giving them and hockey too much power.

So yeah, I'm going to Puck Drop on Saturday, and I'm pretty dang excited about it.  I'm not going to analyze the players or how they play in a freaking scrimmage.  I'm not going to pay attention to lines and pairings.  I'm going to have fun.  I'm going to meet up with some folks I only know from the internet.  I'm going to see some friends I haven't seen since last season ended.  I'm going to enjoy being in the arena again.  I'm going to delight in how something about seeing Lindy Ruff on the ice makes it feel like it's officially hockey season.  I'm going to send Jochen Hecht happy, new favorite player thoughts.  I'm going to ooh and aah over the jerseys.  I'm going to revel in the sound of skates cutting across the ice and pucks rattling around the boards because I suddenly really miss those sounds.

Fun.  Hockey is fun.  That's it.  That's all I want.  If you don't like it, well, too bad.


Schnookie said...

::Slow clap::

Heather, this post just fills me up with warm fuzzies. I love this perspective on fandom, and I'm so glad to see it described so eloquently. It's so refreshing to just step back, take a deep breath, and remember to have fun with being a fan. THANK YOU!

Pookie said...

Let's be honest. You and me, the ones who are reading and writing blogs and obssessing over every little breath the Sabres take, we're the freaks.

You know, I think this was the hardest thing to learn as one of those freaks, but man, if the hockey blogosphere did one thing for me it was make me realize that there are no rules and no one way of being a fan is more valid than any other way. And once you figure that out, it really is just about having fun. Sometimes it's fun to give your marbles to the team, sometimes it's not. But I control my own marbles, dangit! And this season, my marbles want to have fun. (OK, actually if the hockey blogosphere did one thing for me it was introduce me to really, really cool people, but if it did two things for me...)

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I love this post. Love it!

Mike said...

This ought to be required reading for everyone who calls themselves a fan. Well done.

Katebits said...

Hooray! Hooray! See you at Puck Drop!

PKB said...

Critics are trying to come up with stories and it's easier to tell what's broke than what works. It's lazy. Intelligence has got to be a contributing factor too. The conventional model of sports journalism in 1990 no longer fits in 2010 because sports have become more culturally relevant. People really, really care. The discussion is all so negative now and fans that care just take it all in. The year the Sabres won the presidents trophy I remember reading in TBN halfway through the season how lousy they can be when the team doesn't give maximum effort. That was seriously a story. The sports teams can't give the media here even a SLIVER of an opportunity to be critical. This jersey stuff should be a nice story! Listening to the fans complaints. Going back to the traditional logo. I guess not. I guess it's a spit in our faces.

I don't ever listen to WGR and I'm in the car kind of a lot. I have clippings from TBN from when I was younger. I love reading and am obviously interested in the Sabres but now I read about 1 in every 10 columns that appear in that sports section. It all just bums me out. I don't need it.

Thanks for writing this. See ya Sat.

mcguffers said...

I found my google "identity" so I don't have to keep silently lurking!!

Awesome post!! I think people are forgetting that not long ago, Buffalo was in danger of losing the Sabres. So if buying a flippin' t-shirt keeps my little non-cup winners here, then I'll buy a darn red and black goat head. Or banana slug. Or criss-crossed butter knives. Or the ABSOLUTE BEST LOGO EVER!!! (yes, I'm excited about the uniform change this year.)

twoeightnine said...

As someone who has been on the entertainment side of things for years (and really hates the average internet Buffalo fan) I have to say, well said.

But I have to also say this to everyone else out there who does nothing but bitch, especially about the new jerseys. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, not you Heather you're cool, fuck you.

Ooooh, it's a money grab! They just want to sell more jerseys and tshirts and really ugly City of Hockey crap.

You've done nothing but bitch about the Slug for the past few years and how awful it is (while buying a $175 jersey, 3 tshirts and a hat featuring it) hoping for a big pile of salt to be poured on its head.

The Sabres have finally have done exactly what you wanted them to do (while seeing a common, must happen, way to make money) and you're pissed!

They're just trying to distract us from the other crap they've pulled this summer!

Yes, because Darcy and Larry knew a year ago that they'd flame out in the first round and then release hometown Stanley Cup hero Tim Kennedy. Everyone knows that changing your logo and jerseys and merchandise in the NHL only takes a couple of hours. It's not a 1-2 year process. There are no hoops to jump through.

If I were Darcy or Larry (and thankfully I'm not, I'm way too much of a dick. Every time Bucky or Sully started to ask me a question I'd make a wanking motion) I'd come out to the Puck Drop and announce that we've killed the Slug but since we didn't want to hold a gun to your head and force you to buy a new jersey, we're still going to use the old sweaters. Actually anything you can buy will feature the Slug since we don't want to tempt you at all. Our official logo will be the crest but we're not going to use it on anything tangible. The fans win both ways then!

/makes wanking motion

Heather B. said...

289, I'm sitting here in awe. Well done, sir. Truly.

Thanks for the nice feedback, everyone. I wasn't sure how this one turned out so I'm glad you guys seemed to get what I was going for.

CriminallyVu1gar said...

Reminds me of something I had to remind a few people of last season, particularly when the Boston series started to go south.

We watch this to have fun. So let's freaking have some, jesus christ, and stop worrying about everything.