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Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:31

Sports fans can sometimes make the game

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My wife is not a sports fan, but she loves to go to sporting events once in a while if only to watch the fans.
Can’t say I blame her.

To steal a Don Cherry term, sports fans are beauties. Like movies and television, sports are a great way to forget your everyday struggles and get into something that for the vast majority of us, doesn’t completely affect our daily lives — other than for some, affect employment or a means to earn money.
There is the disappointment of losing to a rival or dropping a playoff series, but sports remains relevant because it’s an escape and being a fan allows to have fun and blow off steam.
With hockey playoffs in full swing, I’ve had the chance to check out some Brooks Bandits games and their Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs. The Bandits have been the number one team in Canada for Junior A hockey.
The fans there tend to be kind of conservative. While they tend to spend big on the programs and the 50-50 draws — i.e. the March 22 game, 1,800 fans at the Centennial Arena turned into just over a $5,000 50-50 ticket win for some lucky soul — they are loud, but not wild.
In fact, one guy right in front of me last Friday had an airhorn and was jumping up and down during the last ticking second in a 7-0 drubbing of the overmatched Drumheller Dragons and was quickly told to calm down by arena staff. No sense getting too excited, right?
 Anyone who remembers the hilarious ultra-dry David Puddy (Patrick Warburton) character from the iconic comedy series Seinfeld will remember the famous episode where Puddy is a New Jersey Devils fan. Puddy does everything to scaring a priest (not a nice thing to do, but for the sake of fictional comedy was kind of funny), painted a letter on his chest along with Seinfeld and the other male characters to spell “Devils” and of course painting his face in a scary pattern.
ELAINE: What is that?
PUDDY: I painted my face.
ELAINE: You painted your face?
PUDDY: Yeah.
PUDDY: You know, support the team.
ELAINE: Well, you can’t walk around like that.
PUDDY: Why not?
ELAINE: Because it’s insane?
PUDDY: Hey, you gotta let them know you’re out there, this is the playoffs.
Not too many painted faces in Brooks, especially not with the Bandits theme or everyone would be thinking they were at a Lone Ranger convention.
Hockey fans in Medicine Hat tend to be dead during the regular season and kind of wake up during the playoffs. Swift Current can be obscenely loud when they want to be —like I’m sure it was after the double overtime goal Monday night —while I would say going to a game in Regina is like going to the library.
Mind you, if you had a team like the Pats, you’d be quiet and sad too.
Perhaps the lack of energy for the Pats, can be related to the Saskatchewan Roughriders where going to Taylor Field ... err Mosaic Place is the epitome of fun. Fans are awesome at Rider games and anyone who hasn’t experienced the place going bonkers during an especially exciting time needs to — fan of sports or not. The loudness, the Puddy-like paint jobs, the sheer extreme exhilaration of winning or a thrilling touchdown or collective “ohhhh” on a bone-jarring hit in a stadium holding 28,000 fans is something which can only be experienced live.
Plus, seeing these Rider fans, or Broncos’ or Bandits fans wearing their teams’ jerseys or hats around in “ordinary life” just helps build that collective support. You’re part of something and have thousands of (albeit) temporary friends.
There’s something to be said about watching an event live. You get to see a game in real speed, see the players up close, but more importantly, you get to experience the collective emotions of your temporary friends, whether good or bad.
Either way, it’s a fun ride ... take a game in sometime, even if you’re not a sports junkie. It’ll be worth it.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor