Why are sports fans so…fanatical?

Sports fans, or more accurately stated…the sports fanatic. They came in all shapes and sizes, all backgrounds and differing walks of life. From those who stand shirtless and sporting body paint in sub-freezing weather at football games… to those who bang wildly on the glass in hockey arenas… to those who loyally only purchase products whose logos are affixed to the car of their favorite NASCAR driver… to soccer, (football), fans who’ll span the globe in support of their nation’s team…to those who simply gather at the local watering hole to enjoy the game and a beer with others…the sports fan is as much ingrained in human culture as any tradition, religion and ritual.

Sports fans will follow their favorite team anywhere. Here, Atlanta Thrashers fans travelled to Carolina for a game against the Hurricanes

Sports fans will follow their favorite team anywhere. Here, Atlanta Thrashers fans traveled to Carolina for a game against the Hurricanes (Stacy Garguilo)

So what is it about sports that will bring out such emotion, dedication and passion from otherwise “normal” people? I mean, let’s face it…there are some who afford a level of loyalty to a team or athlete which they cannot seem to give even to their spouse.

Could it be the thrill of competition alone? Is it the ‘David vs. Goliath’ effect in which heavy favorites can indeed be knocked off by lowly underdogs on any given day? Might it possibly be the need to come together in groups to support one another in a common interest? Or is it just an outlet to allow grown adults to live vicariously through the success of those teams and individuals they follow and support?

“I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures” – Earl Warren

Like so many of you, I first experienced “fanhood” at an early age. In the 1970’s my family lived in the Tampa St. Pete area of Florida and around the age of 9 I discovered the sport of soccer. I had played baseball and football like every other red-blooded American male… but for some odd reason, I seemed to have a natural ability to perform best on the soccer pitch.

At roughly the same time, the North American Soccer League had expanded into the area and my family became fans of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. While attending games, I found myself gravitating towards the north end zone of old Tampa Stadium to hand out with the “rowdiest” of fans…otherwise known as “fannies”…to view games. This group of hooligans were known for their, shall we say, over indulgence in adult beverages and took to tossing dead fish carcasses at and into the goal netting being protected by the opposing goalkeeper.

It certainly wasn’t the strawberries and cream crowd found at Wimbledon, that’s for sure.

“New Yorkers love it when you spill your guts out there. Spill your guts at Wimbledon and they make you stop and clean it up” – Jimmy Carter

In short, it was there I realized that paying customers were not in attendance simply to observe the proceeding in as much as they were there to be a part of it… and I became addicted to that type of sports environment. This would serve me well later in life when ice hockey became my sport of choice. Let’s face it folks, hockey fans are a different breed.

Many of you, I’m sure, experienced much the same feeling when you first started attending NHL hockey games, or whatever sporting event it was that gave you that initial rush of excitement. And like myself, it has stuck with you as you’ve grown into adulthood, started your careers and/or wed and become parents. Then, the cycle begins anew as we’ve taken our own children to their first games, seeing that magic, fire and passion in their eyes just as it was in ours at that age.

But even when I was younger, I wondered what exactly was it that caused people to freely surrender such loyalty and devotion to a spots team…to spend so much time, energy and money following their favorite team. When asked that question by a reporter, Rodney Marsh…one of the star players for the Rowdies…responded, “Most people are in a factory from nine till five. Their job may be to turn out 263 little circles. At the end of the week they’re three short and somebody has a go at them. On Saturday afternoons they deserve something to go and shout about”.

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelveminutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence” – Erma Bombeck

So, it’s a release, an escape from the doldrums of our average lives. Okee-dokee then, but surely there must be something more to it than just that, don’t you think?

In this article by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlin…who has a degree in Education and Psychology from the University of Alberta…there are certain benefits to being a sports fan. Watching sports, specifically hockey, has a positive effect on our brains. She cites a University of Chicago study that concludes, “Being an athlete or a sports fan changes the neutral networks in the brain and improves language skills”.

Ms. Pawlik-Kienlin goes on to say, “playing and watching hockey can boost your brain health and language skills”.

Hmmm…well, I can certainly see where she is coming from in regards to ‘language skills’. I must admit that sitting in the middle of some well-seasoned hockey fans can be quite an education in vocabulary. If you are in need of a prime example of this, just make your way down to Philips Arena the next time the Buffalo Sabres are in town.

“Sports are the one thing that an adult can invest 100%, total passion in without fear of any consequences” – Rush Limbaugh

Also, as we can see in this report by Lisa Jancarik, Dr. Rick Grieve of Western Kentucky’s clinical psychology says it has a great deal to do with our need to interact in social networks, and it begins with the family unit given that children tend to gravitate towards the sports and teams that their parents follow.

“Why are my sons big hockey fans?” Dr. Grieves asks in a rhetorical fashion. “Because I take them down to see the Predators on a regular basis. Why are they not baseball fans? We don’t have a baseball team to follow”.

Grieves also continues to reasons why sports fans cling to certain superstition and traditions. “Personally I believe this has more to do with anxiety reduction…than with actual belief”. It helps us deal with the tension that comes with following our favorite teams.

This has to explain why I, like so many others, simply cannot bring myself to wash my Thrashers jersey while they are on a hot streak and playing well. And that explains why my jersey has been so clean for much of the past three seasons.

“We are inclined that if we watch a football game or a baseball game, we have taken part in it” – John F. Kennedy

Modern technology certainly plays a big part in the sports fanaticism of today. Television has brought sports of all kinds into our homes for decades now, Ted Turner’s vision helped beam the Atlanta Braves to baseball fans nationwide in the 1980s and cable packages such as NHL Center Ice allow fans to continue following their some teams even if they have to move several states away.

The same is true with streaming games over the internet, which even allows for game viewing overseas.

“Hockey is like a disease. You can’t really shake it” – Ken Wregget

Not to be overlooked is how sports is able to cross over racial, ethnic, spiritual and political boundaries in a way nothing else can. Take baseball for instance… how many times have you seen a player smack a game winning homer over the wall and the observed the celebration as he crosses over home plate? There are whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians jumping around together enjoying the success achieved by the team. There are no quota systems required to field a team in any sports…a player’s abilities alone gives him the right to perform at whatever level he finds himself at. And we can sit right next to someone who may be our political opposites at a game, but as long as they are wearing the same jersey that we are…we are brothers!

Society as a whole can learn a lot from that, if you ask me.

Of course, it’s just as possible that there is a more cynical basis that drives our reasoning…the sheer brutality that comes with sports that rely on physical contact.

As George Orwell put it, “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words, it is war minus the shooting”.

“Fans are the only ones who really care.  There are no free-agent fans” – Dick Young

Whatever the cause and circumstances, sports fans display a type of passion for their favorite teams and players that are deeply embedded in our society. It need not follow logic and it need not follow reason. To me, it’s based purely on emotion and the cause of a person’s “fanhood” can only be truly found inside of his or her soul, the fiber of their being.

80 comments Add your comment

Putting On The Foil

August 15th, 2010
7:33 am

Putting On The Foil

August 15th, 2010
7:59 am

Growing up in the South, loyalty to the home team was a matter of pride. The local colleges and universities represented mostly home grown talent and the pro teams, while not locally grown, still represented your home state. This was, of course, before guys switched teams every year and carpetbagging wasn’t at it’s peak. How a southern boy got hooked on hockey is beyond me, but I did, when I first saw Bobby Orr and the Bruins playing on the game of the week. Didn’t know anything about it, but the physicality of the game took hold pretty quick being a dyed in the wool football fan. All I could say was, damn, wish we had a team. Enter the Flames soon there after. Don’t know who marketed those guys, maybe Cliff Fletcher, but that was one rough and tumble bunch that put butts in the stands. Win or lose, didn’t matter much as long as the Flames won the fights. That seemed to fuel the pride of the locals, who up until then only had football and rasslin for good ole southern whoopin type stuff. But anyway, that’s what fuels this Georgia native. Sure hope to see that brand of hockey again here.

Rhythmpenguin

August 15th, 2010
8:00 am

I became a hockey fan when I was about 12 and I went to my first game. We had free font row tickets, the glass broke, and I was “enlightened” by a puck to the head…and I have been a Thrashers fanatic ever since. And I am still looking for the guy who hit that puck (March 6, 2001 vs the Avalanche)!

Streethockey Oldtimer

August 15th, 2010
8:32 am

“Ms. Pawlik-Kienlin goes on to say, “playing and watching hockey can boost your brain health and language skills”.”

I’ll take that a pseudo-scientific proof of my personal observation that hockey fans do seem to be a cut above the rest.

This article also shows why the team needs to make sure many of their promotions are geared towards family and kids. in the 70’s my dad used to save up little coupons on the side of milk cartons to get us free Mets tickets, and spending that time there with him caused me to still suffer with that team to this day. (and led to my I’ll concieved plan to only take my 5 year old son to Turner Field when the Mets were in town, thinking I could “trick” him into being a fan. Seemed to be working until the first time I looked over, saw him “tomahawk chopping” with a big smile on his face, and didn’t have the heart to stop him. I’ll concede ont he baseball front, especially since he’s becoming quite the little Thrasher fan.)

By the way, on a hunch, I googled the “New York/Wimbeldon/guts” comment, and while I did see an one entry attributing it to Jimmy Carter, I’m betting it was Jimmy Conners (like the rest of the hits said.)

Streethockey Oldtimer

August 15th, 2010
8:38 am

“I’ll concieved = ill concieved”

Darn iPhone autocorrect doesn’t always know what I’m trying to say (as evidenced by my other typos.)

Streethockey Oldtimer

August 15th, 2010
9:01 am

Alright, this being such a well researched post by Bill inspired me to double check my Carter vs. Conners comment. I’m finding lots of sources for each one (should have scrolled a little further down before), but I’m still figuring Conners would be more likely to say that (how/why would Carter say that?).

See what you get when you ask us to pipe up Bill? Now I won’t shut up.

thebighairybeast

August 15th, 2010
9:03 am

Good article. Its funny because I was born into a tried and true die hard UGA family. Most of my family are season ticket holders, Ive had two uncle play between the hedges, my baby’s blanket was a UGA one. And yes I love my Bulldogs but my family never understands why I put the Thrashers above the Bulldogs in priority.

There is ver much a social aspect to things. But there is also that pride that comes with being one of the few. I love wearing my jerseys around my small town and seeing everyone look at me like Im crazy. I love given thrasher tshirst to my uncles at Christmas. I love taking a road trip to Nashville or Carolina and feeling that pride of wearing my colors in a “hostile” (I use hostile loosely because both places have some fun people to watch hockey with) crowd.

Buzzeng

August 15th, 2010
9:27 am

“And that explains why my jersey has been so clean for much of the past three seasons.”

Nice! Another orange juice spit take all over my laptop on a Sunday morning. I’ve got to stop drinking and reading your blog, Bill!

I grew up a Flames fan because my dad took me to hockey games. I still remember religiously following the team in the paper and with my friends. The day they left is still a low point.

Go Thrashers! Let’s hope Bill’s jersey stays dirty and smelly all year long!

Rhythmpenguin

August 15th, 2010
9:56 am

thebighairybeast, I was not born into a UGA family, but am a student here. I have frequently wondered why so many people are Georgia football fanatics? Hockey is so much cooler, more interesting , and more exciting! Maybe it’s the tailgating. How about some Thrashers tailgating??? =)

World Be Free

August 15th, 2010
10:01 am

I grew up a Bills’ fan, sat out in the cold, rain and snow more often than not. War Memorial Stadium was the pro football equivalent to Ebbetts Field, through there was very little quaint about the place. Then we sat through 4 consecutive Super Bowl losses. But like my Dad used to say, “son, you don’t own the team” which was his way of saying win or lose, get on on with your life. Fanatics or idiots, take your pick.

The reason it is tough to sell hockey in the non-traditional markets, is because as a kid, you can’t watch a game then go outside in your backyard and play it. That’s how most kids fall in love with sports, whether it is baseball, football or basketball. These are all sports that do not require a controlled atmosphere or naturally cold environment to play-like ice hockey. Having played all sports, I can tell you that there is nothing like playing hockey on a frozen pond, nothing close. We played alotta street hockey, sometimes even before school in the mornings, because we were hockey fanatics, NHL or whatever. The game dominates in some cities and towns.

So for a natural Southerner to become a hockey fan or fanatic is something special. I am surprised to meet so many people that are such knowledgeable hockey fans that did not grow up in hockey environments. I think this highlights the special nature of the sport, how fans are turned to the “fun side” when attending their first game. The game appeals to most fans competitive nature, similar to as if you grew up a Dogs or Jackets fan. The NHL needs to get the game back to national exposure to continue the positive trends of the past 2 seasons. This means the hated ESPN and no lockout when the current CBA expires.

Rawhide

August 15th, 2010
10:31 am

StreetHockeyOldtimer – like you, I was surprised to see that quote attributed to our 39th presdient. I thought it was Jimmy Conners at first glance myself. I double checked to see and, sure enough, it was Mr. Carter. Here’s the linkage.

Rhythmpenguin – The Nasty Nesters tailgate prior to every weekend game down in “The Gulch”. That’s the open area of the lower parking lot just next to the CNN parking deck.
Always a good time.

Smoothie

August 15th, 2010
11:04 am

Bravo Bill! Bravo!

Flagstaff

August 15th, 2010
11:05 am

Great blog. I remember my first hockey game: March 18, 2007, Thrashers 4, Sabres 3, OT. I had never really been a sports fan up until that point, but I remember falling in love with the game because of its speed and intensity. The sport had me from the moment that Kovalchuk scored that first goal of the game (sigh).

Thrashers27

August 15th, 2010
11:13 am

I remember that game, RythmPenguin. I still have a “White Out” T-shirt from that night.

Didn’t see who put the puck on your melon though.

Nate

August 15th, 2010
11:14 am

The family thing is very true. I have developed my own allegiances that are not in line with the rest of my family (Red Sox, Cubs, Celtics, Blackhawks), but the majority of the teams I cheer for/cheered for came from my dad (Braves, Hawks, Falcons, UGA football and basketball, Louisville football and basketball). And I have brought them into the hockey fold with the Thrashers. In spite of the team differences my love of sports was passed down to me and we can always agree on teams to root against it seems…

Cliff Fletcher

August 15th, 2010
11:32 am

Can we consider Sage a fanatic of some sort?

Darkhorse

August 15th, 2010
11:34 am

My father used to take me to Flames games way back, but I really only remember a vague recollection of those days. It wasn’t until the NHL brought some neutral site games to the Omni in the late eighties and early nineties that I became a fan of the sport. Then, like so many others from here, the Braves started that magical run that sprouted the sports fanatic in me at 16. That had me primed and ready to surrender my allegiance to some sporting entity. That would become the Atlanta Knights and hockey. Went to several other cities with friends to watch NHL games until the Thrashers arrived. As soon as the Thrashers made it on the scene, my hockey fever was in full gear. As much as ownership and DW has tried to suck the hockey lifeblood out of me, it still comes back every season, just as strong.

Zoomo

August 15th, 2010
11:41 am

Growing up in the NY area you really learn that sports fandom is part of the fabric of being. It’s much more of a part of the day to day aspect of lving there than it is here in Atlanta. There’s no comparison to the devotion, fanaticisim, and general intensity of team support. NY, Boston, Philly, Chicago. those 4 cities are really different than the rest of the country in the way they follow and support their teams.

I couldn’t give up my alliegences to my NY teams when I moved here. But, something unusual happened. I missed the intensity and passion for sports that I was used to. I missed the “live and die with every play” mentality. The year after we moved here, the Thrashers came into being. We went to the inaugural game. It was an almost instant recognition that hockey was the source for me to find that intensity, that passion.

I’d been a Rangers fan growing up. But, not a huge hockey fan. Much more casual in my appreciation for hockey then I was with the other major sports. But, as the NBA began to lose my interest, I started to watch more hockey. And, I always loved watching playoff hockey especially. After that inaugural Thrashers game, I knew I was “in” as a Thrashers fan, My Ranger affilaition was abandoned. I started to watch the Thrashers and follow them closely. I got sucked into the game of hockey in big way – that quote above “Hockey is like a disease… ” certainly could be applied to me.

In the 12 years we’ve lived here, there’s exactly one event – be it concert, baseball game, football game, or other event – that has rivaled that NY intensity. That was the Thrashers 2 home playoff game. Insane! Here’s to hoping we get to do that this year, and again and again in the future.

Rhythmpenguin

August 15th, 2010
11:50 am

Thanks Rawhide, I’ll come check it out some time.

Thrashers27, I am still trying to find out who hit it. I wold love to try and get them to sign it. I don’t remember the “White Out” T-shirt? I wonder why??? =)

World Be Free

August 15th, 2010
12:01 pm

Zoomo-the Atlanta even that has been most special for me was going to the World Series in 1995 and 1996. I grew up in a town that did not have MLB, we listened to the Yankees on the radio in the early 60’s following my idol, Mickey Mantle. So going to the WS was a dream come true.

My first Thrashers’ game was my hockey highlight in ATL, a tie with the Sabres. The game was special because it was the Thrashers’ first point as a team, as well as my traditional team (Sabres) and my new team (Thrashers) playing each other. The night was something special for sure.

Putting On The Foil

August 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

WBF-Just because we didn’t have the environment to play hockey didn’t mean some of us here in the South didn’t try. We had one kid on our block that had all the equipment for street hockey, the only exception, one goalie outfit. We would put on our (clip on) roller skates, no less to our Sunday shoes because they held the clip ons best (risk the ass whoopin from mom), and then race from one end of the street to the other whacking the hell out of that orange ball that served as the puck. Short straw had to play goal with no equipment. Damn, what a sight I bet that was.

DWTOO

August 15th, 2010
1:46 pm

Great blog – Dr. Rawhide Hockey Psychologistic or just hockey psychotic.

Been a hockey fan ever since I first laced up the skates. There’s 8mm film of me at the outdoor rink in PA from 1960. We used to skate up and down the canal every weekend in the winter passing pucks back and forth. Also pond hockey was good revenge on the guys who beat me up playing football. Was a big Flyers fan in those days and remember listening to the radio to the Cup finals from the dorm room on the other end of the state. Attended Knights games and was really bummed when they left. Like Zoomo, WBF, and some others I’ve made the leap to full time Thrahser fan. Have met some really great folks thru being a fan of this team. Some here would probably call me a sheep, but, I look forward to every opeing night.

A27

August 15th, 2010
1:50 pm

My first game my dad brought me to was the Hartford Whalers vs Montreal in 1983. I was 5 and I still remember that game to this day the Whalers won 4-2 and my love for hockey started right there. Losing the Whalers in 96 was devastating to me and my brothers and friends cause that was all we had in Ct as far as pro sports was concerned. I remember crying at that last game at that last game, because we were losing more than just a hockey team, we were losing a way of life. In 98 I along with my brothers moved to Atlanta for a better way of life and because of the Thrashers we wanted pro hockey back in our lives and what better way to start with the expansion Thrashers. A fresh start new city,job, and hockey team. Now I’m 35 and have 2 little ones of my own and there both Thrashers fans as is my wife and my brothers kids. We have that hockey tradition again. We have Friday Thrasher game nights, were we all get together and cheer,curse,scream and root on our boys in blue for better or worse. I guess my point is that being a fan or fanatic in my case is bigger than the game itself its something we all can bond with and get together. I know that sounds kind of stupid, but its the way it is. I truly enjoy reading every ones views and opinions on here and look forward to maybe meeting some of you at a game this season and talk some hockey over a beer at Gorins. Oh and WBF I got some real pirogies that my mom made from scratch in my freezer if you want… Us Poles got to stick together down here:)

Brendan

August 15th, 2010
3:21 pm

I think fandom is a combination of social aspects as well as vicarious entertainment. Most times, people align themselves with their local teams. The reason that Atlanta, and other southern cities, are so fixated on college sports … resides in the region being the last in the country to receive pro sports.

What pro teams were in the south prior to 1960? I can’t really answer that. I think the Falcons were born in the mid-60’s. As were the Tampa Bay Bucks. Miami didn’t get the Panthers, Marlins and Heat until the 90’s, I believe. They did have the Dolphins, of course, but I cannot recall the year of their birth as a franchise. Tampa Bay got the (Devil) Rays in the 90’s, I think, along with the Lightning (NHL). Charlotte got the Panthers in the 90’s, I think. They’d had two NBA teams. One moved away. The Braves have been here a while, but I truthfully can’t remember when they moved from Boston. The Hawks used to play in St. Louis. I don’t remember when they moved to Atlanta. Raleigh didn’t get the ‘Canes until 1995, I think.

The Titans came to Memphis in the 90’s. The Predators didn’t arrive until 1998. I don’t think Alabama has a major pro sports team, nor Mississippi, nor South Carolina. Washington, DC is technically a southern city, but really … who thinks of it that way? They’ve got the Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, and Nationals. The Capitals didn’t arrive until 1974. The Nats are extremely recent. I can’t remember when the Bullets franchise, now Wizards, was founded. I don’t think Virginia has a major pro sports team. There’s minor league pro sports all over the south. But, for many, many years … the South, as a region, lacked pro sports team. It forced fans to follow their minor league teams and college sports teams. And those allegiances are still very strong today. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets were the identities that bound and divided the sports fans in this city and region, I suspect until the Braves and Falcons took root.

MB

August 15th, 2010
4:05 pm

Brendan, you make a good point about the reason most Southerners are bigger fans of college sports than our northern neighbors. I believe the Falcons and Braves both had their first seasons here in 1966, and the Hawks followed a few years later. Flames came along in ‘72, I believe.

My wife is from Pittsburgh and a few years ago we went to a Thursday night Steelers game. I have to say, it was very similar to attending an SEC football game…great tailgating, everybody in “Stiller” gear, and as passionate as any fanbase I’ve encountered. And year round you’ll see a good number of people, men and women, dressed in their gold and black…just as you’ll see folks in their UGA red and black here, no matter what the season.

As for my hockey fanaticism, I owe that to my elementary school buddy Richard. His parents had great season tix to the Flames and they would take me to several games in season. We’d walk down to the glass during warm-ups and cheer for our boys or go bang the glass at the opposition. I remember seeing Larry Robinson one game and thinking there couldn’t possibly be a larger human.

In addition, we played floor hockey in our school’s cafeteria, and later in high school we had a neighborhood league of teams that would play at school blacktops. Our Greencrest Whalers more than held our own during their brief existence.

Then the Flames left town and I went off to college at Auburn, meaning hockey games/news was rare (insert AU joke here). So sadly, I missed much of the Oilers/Gretzky dynasty and lost track of the league and its teams, for the most part. You can imagine how happy I was to have the Knights, and then happier still when the Thrashers game to town. Yes, it’s a happiness colored by the pain of ineptitude, but as a lifelong Atlanta sports fan, I’m more than used to that.

Rightshot

August 15th, 2010
5:56 pm

A good friend of mine took me to my first Knights game. The highlight was when they won the Turner Cup. I even got to drink from that cup. Brent Gretzky poured about 1 cup of beer in my mouth and 4 down the front of my T-shirt, which was signed by all but one member of the team. When they left, the unwashed T-shirt and my jersey went into boxes and have not seen the light of day since.

I still have the give away from the first home opener, The “ticket” in a special case and will treasure it always.

I was a Falcons fan before hockey, just like my father. Now I am a Thrashers fan first, Falcons second and the rest I follow enough to know what the score of the last game was.

My father is now a Falcons fan and will watch the Thrashers when he gets a chance. I even got mom to watch them too. Inherited in reverse I guess.

hockeymom92

August 15th, 2010
6:38 pm

I remember going to my first hockey game at the Omni while I was a student at Ga Tech. Thought it was a great sport and at the time could almost rival football. Ha! If I had only known then what I know very well now! Followed Falcons and Ga Tech my whole life – best memories are Sundays with my dad and our family watching football (he did not believe there was any other sport, since it was the one he played). Our youngest and only male tax exemption came home from kindergarten and said he wanted to play hockey – go figure – that was 12 years ago. Just about undid the football playing grandfather. As they say the rest is history and I confess that now hockey comes before football. Fortunately Tech’s games do not usually conflict with my hockey (except when the son is playing out of town) and I look like I am at a tennis match if both the Falcons and Thrashers are on the tube – but I make it work. Sports are my escape from the insanity that is the rest of my life.

World Be Free

August 15th, 2010
7:17 pm

Foil, sounds like you had a great time without the ice. Street hockey is “organized” in some places, but it wasn’t on our block! We used to challenge other neighborhoods to street hockey games; we had 4 seperate and distinct neighborhoods that played against each other on tennis courts behind our house. Watch out for the poles that held up the tennis nets! No refs there to seperate players if they had disagreements. I lost my first tooth playing street hockey. Alotta fun.

World Be Free

August 15th, 2010
7:26 pm

A27, few foods better in the world than REAL home-made pirogies. My grandparents had a bar (i.e. Gin Mill) in South Buffalo-they were both from the old country. They always had a supply of pirogies for us when we came over. The rest of the world doesn’t know what it is missing. And yes, we have to stick together!

Brendan and MB-I agree that in general, college sports are bigger in the south than they are in the north. Pro sports are favored in most northern cities, south I have to day I was a huge south college football fan growing up in New York. I have to say I am more of a college football fan now that I am pro football. I think the NFL is ruining a good thing, but that’s just my opinion.

Pro sports teams have followed the people-the Dodgers and Giants to California, as well as a host of pro teams to the south as a wave of people moved in the same direction.

World Be Free

August 15th, 2010
7:32 pm

This Kaberle watch is making me sick. The Leafs are treating this guy like he’s a prostitute. No wonder real UFAs want nothing to do with Tronna. If the Thrashers hung a player out to dry like Tronna is going with Kabs, the Canadian press would be all over us. But Toronto does it and it is OK. Why would this guy want tio go back to Toronto after having to endure 2 consecutive summers of being displayed in Macy’s East window?

Sparky (Smoothie)

August 15th, 2010
8:34 pm

WBF – no doubt, it’s a farce for sure. But Kabs probably doesn’t feel as bad as Dustin Johnson right now. Ouch! Tough way to lose out on a major title.

Jack

August 15th, 2010
8:48 pm

Yeah Dustin unfortunately got the short end of the stick. Not sure if I totally agree with the judgement. the so called bunker was not even on the course and was trampled by the gallery. Anyways this is a hockey blog. So this Kaberle and Savard thing needs to end. Also I look forward when we make a move or moves

Tom Lysiak

August 15th, 2010
9:01 pm

My uncle took me to Atlanta Crackers games at Ponce De Leon Park in the early 60’s. A sports fanatic was born! A Falcons fan from the first season in 1965. Seeing Tommy Nobis these days and realizing he was the first player ever selected by the Falcons makes me realize how old I am. Love what TD and Coach Smith are creating here. Huge Braves fan since they moved here (from Milwaukee, Brendan) in 1966. Went to the playoffs in 1969 and 1982, suffered like hell until 1991. My son was 7 then and was getting hooked on the Braves. He grew up through the good times and thought it was always like that for the Braves. HA!!! I’ve been to at least one game in each World Series as well as most playoff rounds. (Good luck Chipper. See you in Orlando in February!!! Thanks for everything Bobby!!!)

A friend at work took me to a Flames game in 1972. I was hooked immediately and thought every team had a Jiggs McDonald and that every team was supposed to play it tough like the Flames. As chronicled here previously, I was heartbroken when the Flames moved.

I loved the Knights and my kids learned to love the game watching them. We were there when they won the Turner Cup and loved Chris LiPuma. We were also there for the Knights-Las Vegas Thunder brawl. I hated to see them leave, but it was OK with the NHL coming back.

That is precisely why Sage’s pissy cavalier attitude is so perplexing. He is willing to play his boycott game at the expense of the team leaving town. Been there, seen that and it is an empty feeling. NHL hockey would never return and that is too high of a price to pay for bruised feelings and hatred of the owners and one specific employee.

Lord Stanley

August 15th, 2010
9:17 pm

no Worries on Sage. His blogs make about as much sense as Bradley’s and schultz’s articles. The leaving talk will all end when we have a playoff year this year

World Be Free

August 15th, 2010
9:38 pm

Smoothie-I was just reading about Dustin, wow the kid will not sleep too much tonight!

Tom-great post, as usual. Some good memories of where we all come from. I remember my first AFL football game, Bills-Jets in 1968, the year the Jets won the Super Bowl. Saw Joe Namath throw 5 touchdown passes- and 5 interceptions, 2 for Bills’ touchdowns! Loved the AFL, wide open football and a bunch of teams that really hated each other. We often talk about old time hockey, but the AFL was old time football.

I think you last paragraph tells it all; boycotting may sound like the solution, but in reality it solves nothing. We have to deal with reality.

Brendan

August 15th, 2010
9:43 pm

Tom Lysiak, another great post. Chris LiPuma! That’s a name from the past. Well done. Yes, I was incorrect on the Braves coming here from Milwaukee, not Boston. I try my best. I really do.

Re: Sage, I’ve read his posts long enough to know … that it’d be his position that the NHL should either (1) remove the Thrashers and replace them here in Atlanta with another club, or an expansion team or (2) remove the owners from the league and replace them with ones who care.

Idea # 2 isn’t too bad. I think that’s what Sage would want most. Where the Sage is hardcore … is that he’d rather the Thrashers leave than continue to be “schedule fodder” for the rest of the league. Well, that pretty much cuts off any chance of a Stanley Cup down the road. If Sage feels like he’s enabling stupidity by paying to attend games … then that’s certainly his call to make. I don’t personally feel like any team or market should expect to go deep into the playoffs every year. I think there’s a natural ebb and flow to a franchise. We have to take the lean years with the Championship seasons. Right about now, Sage is spewing out his coffee. “Brendan, did you just say Championship seasons … for the Thrashers?” Warning: There’s a Jim Mora, Sr. impersonation about to transpire out there, so … be amply forewarned. Even through cyberspace I heard the Sage tell me to “cut the dose” of whatever I’m on. But, honestly, over 40 years … can we say, with certainty, that the Thrashers will never reach a Finals? We might undergo 5-6 ownership changes in that span. So, who knows? Sage wants to force change. How many of us would cry a river if, tomorrow, Don Waddell and Dan Marr were let go? Or to hear that a local interest, not corporate, nor an Octocluster, bought the Thrashers with announced intention of keeping them here past 2019? I’d stand and clap.

Cliff Fletcher

August 15th, 2010
10:17 pm

I would like to suggest changing the Thrashers’ name-I have never liked it.
How about the Atlanta Fury?

Tom Lysiak

August 15th, 2010
10:53 pm

WBF and Brendan, thanks.

WBF – I have a buddy at work who is from Buffalo. He loves to go home for an occasional game. We laugh every now and then when he tells about going to watch Bills-Jets games in the Meadowlands. He swears he needs a helmet worse than the players!!

Brendan – Just razzing you about Milwaukee. No biggie.

Tom Lysiak

August 15th, 2010
10:58 pm

Lord S. – Sounds like a plan!!

Brendan

August 16th, 2010
12:46 am

Cliff Fletcher, I agree that the name “Thrashers” has never really cut it for me. But, I don’t know what any of the names I can think of are any better. I like “Fury.” Atlanta “Flames” was a great name. Here are some spinoffs related to “Flames.” (1) Heat, (2) Burn, (3) Fire, (4) Spark, (5) Blaze. I don’t know if any of these names doing anything for you. Of course, I think they could move away from references to flames and fire, or a minor league name like, “Battle.”

I’ve never really thought that types of birds were good for hockey. Football and baseball?, sure. Not hockey. And I’m glad that the team is called “Atlanta” instead of “Georgia.” If Coca-Cola wound up buying the team, they might be known today as the “Bottlers.”

Tom Lysiak, no worries. I think your buddy at work will be thrilled to be seeing his Sabres twice in October. Sabre-Thrasher games are always good. Buffalo fans are some of the most hated on these blogs. In recent years, the Thrashers have taken points away from Buffalo that helped keep them out of the playoffs. Atlanta will not be the #1 target of the Buffalo Sabres this year, however. I suspect, instead, it will be the Boston Bruins, who eliminated them in a year when Buffalo won the Northeast Division. Speaking of the NE Division, it will be very interesting to see what happens there. Montreal made some very interesting choices in net. Boston has cap issues, still not fully resolved. Buffalo’s defense will have a new look, with Lydman and Tallinder gone, replaced by Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrisonn. If anyone wants Craig Rivet, I think he’s in the final year of his contract, and Buffalo might just want to move him. Ottawa, post Dany Heatley, was a playoff team at # 5 last season. The Sens picked up Sergei Gonchar this offseason. Toronto will probably finish in the basement of the NE division, but for their sakes, I hope they don’t. They’re 1st rounder next year is also promised to the Boston Bruins, along with 2nd rounder, too, I believe.

Joe Friday, I saw this article in the Chicago Tribune on Antti Niemi. http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/ct-spt-0816-haugh-niemi-chicago–20100815,0,5349441.column. I wonder if the Montreal Canadiens will move on Niemi, now that Halak is traded away to St. Louis. If not, they’ll be going with backup Alex Auld and starter Carey Price.

Cliff Fletcher

August 16th, 2010
5:37 am

Tom-Jets’ fans are generally the lower class people of metro NY, Giants the upper class. Especially true in the AFL and early NFL games in Shea Stadium.

Leafs didn’t make their deal last night for Kaberle; they should have made it last season when he had 2 years left on his contract, now he is just a “summer rental”. Burke couldn’t get his top 6 forward for Kabs, not that I am shedding any tears. Leafs’ fans are up in arms, which they would have been if they traded Kaberle for less than market value. Typical Maple Loaf fans.

Sabres still too soft up from, Neidermeyer will help for ONE season. Typical Sabres, lack of the type of commitment it takes to win big games. rivet is captain so that will probably keep hin in Buffalo for another year. Mike Weber is in the minors, he deserves a chance on the blue line in BUF. Ask the Broones why you don’t sign old guys to long term contracts-Tim Thomas and Marc Savard’s contracts are like elephants on the Bruins’ backs. Neither guy can be moved and it is doubtful either will live up to their contracts. Sens needed Gonchar more than we did, he will be a big help for their offense.

rob

August 16th, 2010
8:36 am

Anyone remember broom hockey? I learned to skate at the Sabres practice rink, watched them play on the TV and begged to stay up to see the end! Neighborhood street hockey games were the norm. You learned to shoot pretty accurate or you spent most of the time chasing the ball down the street. The Sabres were everywhere and the rivalries awesome. Even after I moved down here and the Thrashers came to town I was loyal to the Sabres. Found MASHA and played a lot of street hockey here (until the kids came and those 4 hours on Sat/Sun were spent with them instead). I have changed my allegiance because of my family. The kids LOVE hockey, We have hockey sticks and nets and shoot in the garage and driveway. Every time I go home means a stop at Great Skate to get new sticks as they outgrow theirs. Watching them at their 1st hockey game was something I will keep with me, and it was a win against the hated Flyers which made it even better as the kids now boo the orange every time they see it. Ownership may suck, but the loyalty to the team, OUR team, is what makes it so special, and I would hate for that to be lost.
On a side note, I disagree with those who would change the name or the logo or the colors. The Thrashers are unique in this respect. Not the same old color scheme others have, a name that means something here. We had 4 different Thrasher nests in the yard and they are flying around everywhere it seems much to the delight of the kids, who named them after players. The Boys In Blue has a ring to it, keep it ours. Take it from someone who knows how hard it is once it becomes part of you, when the Sabres changed to black and red the lashback was bad, as the whole town was loyal to the blue and gold LOL Just my opinion.

Rhythmpenguin

August 16th, 2010
8:49 am

No true Thrashers fan can like any Hockey team from Pennsylvania. =)

I like the name Thrashers. Maybe it’s because I have grown up with it, but I would hate to see it changed. At one point some genius in our state gov was/is trying to change the GA state bird to the broiler chicken (because GA produces so many broiler chickens)…the Atlanta Broilers…that would be awful!

Jameson

August 16th, 2010
9:18 am

Brendan- Think if Coca-Cola owned the team in the 50s they’d be called the Atlanta Jerks?

kracker

August 16th, 2010
9:22 am

I have no real story to tell. I watch/rooted for the Flames. I hated to see them go. But back then, the Flames to me were just another part of the local sports fabric. I wouldn’t classify myself as a real hockey fanatic in the 70s. I followed the Hawks a little more closely but I certainly liked the popular Flames players and Jiggs, etc. I never went to many live games so I never really got hooked on hockey like I am now.

I worked with a woman in the late 70s, Dot was her name, who worshipped the Flames and was absolutely devasted when they moved to Calgary. Her cube at work was lined with pictures, sweaters, sticks, giveaway stuff, etc. all about the Flames. If Dot is alive today I’m sure she is still a Flames fan and was a Knights and Thrashers fan from Day One.

All the storys y’all are writing are great reading!! Meanwhile….here in my cube — like a prisoner in a solitary dungeon marking another day of unending boredom — I cross off one more day of the unearned sentence we all must serve each year: August.

Flames

August 16th, 2010
10:11 am

I remember as a kid going to the Braves games with my dad and watching Hank Aaron. That was so exciting watching him play. When he hit number 715 off Al Downing of the Dodgers I went crazy. I was hooked on the Braves from the beginning. Then came the Falcons with Bob Lee/Steve Bartkowski at Quarterback. Then the Grits Blitz with Coach Bennett. We made the Playoffs and lost to the Dallas Cowboys. I was so crushed, who could forget the Bartending field goal kicker Tim Mazzetti. That was when sports was exciting!. Then the Flames came to town. My favorite player was # 12 Tom Lysiak and # 30 Dan Bouchard. I love yelling BOOOOCCCHARD!!!!! When the Flames left Atlanta, I was heart broken and cried. I am still loyal to the Calgary Flames just because of their roots to Atlanta. Then the Bulldogs with # 34 Hershel Walker and the Jackets with Eddie Lee Ivory. Those were my glory days in sports. I became a Hawks fan when Dominic Wilkins, Tree Rollins and Danny Roundfield all played together and we had those great playoff games with Larry Bird and the Celtics. Win or lose I am an Atlanta sports fan. I love the Atlanta Thrashers and there is nothing like taking my family to Phillips arena. I now get to experience those same feelings again with my wife and three children that I did with my father. There is nothing like watching your children get so emotional over a sporting event. You really haven’t lived until you and your family put on your favorite sports jersey, paint your face and go and yell your hearts out over your favorite team. Sports brings us all together. Go Thrashers!!!!!

Smoothie

August 16th, 2010
10:12 am

kracker – that was actually a pretty good story! Thanks for giving us the insight into your fandom. And you are so right about the dog days of August. Goodness gracious this summer has been especially brutal. Perhaps all of the changes and the fact we have 4 Cup winners suiting up for us has me extra anxious to see how the team gels.

Did y’all see the pics of Big Buff parading around his hometown of Roseau, MN with his Thrashers jersey on while carrying / handling the Cup? Pretty funny…at least it seems he’s excited about being a Thrasher and bringing the hopes of a Cup with him to the ATL.

Tom Lysiak

August 16th, 2010
10:18 am

Cliff – Love the salute to the Flames with your blog name. Cliff was THE MAN!!

Regarding low class fans….I went to a couple of Braves playoff games in Pittsburgh in 1992 with a group of 20-25 from here. The Braves had won the first 2 here and we went to games 3 and 4 at Three Rivers. We sat upstairs on the third base line for game 3. We heard the usual taunts walking up to the stadium and to our seats. They crossed the line several times with their comments, but it was nothing to worry about. Then, the real classy fans of Pittsburgh emerged. They started throwing things at our group. Then, they started slinging beer and drinks on us. The straw that broke the camels back was when the drunk rednecks started spitting tobacco and whatever in cups and running down and throwing that on us. The ushers did NOTHING. They ignored our complaints. We really thought we were going to have to fight our way out of the section. The crowd was encouraging them to mess with us, so it wasn’t confined to a few drunks. It is hard to fight 500 fans, so we just walked out as a group glad to just be wearing spit covered clothes.

The next game we sat in the center-field upper deck. The fans were generally nicer and we even had some fun razzing back and forth with some in rows behind us. About the 4th or 5th inning, I noticed a girl about 10 rows below us stand up and turn around to the guy sitting behind her. She reached up and slapped him hard. The next thing you know, this dude cold-cocked her right in the jaw. She went down like Joe Frazier and it looked like a Jerry Springer episode with everyone jumping in. It took security 10-15 minutes to get there and it was more entertaining than the game.

We left there with a real understanding of the fine citizens of Pittsburgh, PA. We went home safely, Sid slid, and the rest is history. I know you can’t judge an ENTIRE city by some drunk rednecks at a game, but I have never seen people treated like that over a GAME. To this day, every loss suffered by a Pittsburgh team in any sport is funny to me. Then there is Cindy Crotchby and it just gets worse….

World Be Free

August 16th, 2010
10:21 am

rob-I remeber broom hockey, but I never played it. I was also one Sabres’ fan that liked the Black and Red, certainly better than the current “slug” jersey. Golisano needs to break down and buy the rights to the Buffalo Bottlecap. I remember the cap from the Bisons’ games.

I am not a fan of the name “Thrasher” either. But it’s too late to change the name, so it is what it is.

Tom Lysiak

August 16th, 2010
10:21 am

Trixie, please tell me the novel I just typed is just stuck in blog purgatory?????? Thanks