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Fandom

June 26, 2015

Anyone who’s seen my twitter feed or Facebook feed for these past couple of months will have surely noticed a high amount of posts related to hockey, specifically the Blackhawks.

Anyone who knew me growing up would find this absurd. I never followed sports or showed any interest in it. Blasphemy for a Canadian when comes to hockey, but there you go. I paid some attention to the ’92 and ’93 Blue Jays winning the world series, but otherwise I was generally oblivious to sports.

I had my fandoms mind you. I could geek out about Star Trek, Star Wars, and various other fantasy or scifi properties with these best of them.

And that’s what’s kind of funny. We can sit there as intellectual geeky people and hold ourselves to be above the jock culture, but really it’s not about that, it’s just about finding something you derive enjoyment from and finding ways to derive further enjoyment from it. Be that gaming (tabletop or video), sports, or being a spectator. It’s still just latching on to something you like and riding it.

I find it funny that as someone in my mid forties I’ve become such a follower of the sport of hockey, given I spent the first 23 years of my life in Canada and couldn’t be bothered to give it a second thought.

But, somehow, I’ve become a fan of the sport, and the team that represents my adopted hometown (can you believe I’ve lived here for over 18 years?). I’ve also become a fan of NFL football, and am a new season ticket holder to the Chicago Fire MLS team, but that’s a different story.

I’ve thought about why I’ve chosen to invest some fraction of my happiness into how well a group of well-paid athletes (who are mostly not from here) fare in a contest with 29 other teams/cities represented. And the thing is, I can’t give a good reason beyond "it makes me feel good".

I never much followed hockey as a kid. My primary exposure was playing "knock-downs" with my brother, Fred, and him telling me who the players were. He was (and is) a Bruins fan to the core. Sure, he’d talk about the big names at the time, but the tales of the quintessential Bruins dominated. Bobby Orr (obviously), Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, etc. I learned the names of the big players, and they stuck with me. But I never really appreciated the full history.

But I generally tuned out sports. I never bothered to learn the rules, and the games generally interfered with my preferred TV viewing regimen (especially in the summer when we had no cable). By and large, I vacillated between ignoring or loathing it.

But here we are, many years later, and like the people who cheered on their knight in the joust, or their gladiator in the coliseum, I cheer on my favorite hockey team. And it makes me happy.

Ultimately, it’s not really defendable on a real intellectual level. And maybe it shouldn’t be. It’s something lower level, something more reptilian, maybe.

If they start stinking up the joint, I may not invest so much of my happiness in they outcomes of the games. But for now, I want to enjoy the ride.

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