The Hockey Community and Building Positivity

Hockey fans are some of the most wonderful, kind, giving people I’ve had the joy of being around.

On the other hand hockey fans are some of the most hate and vitriol filled people I have ever had the displeasure of having interactions with.

 It’s time to have a conversation. Hockey is an amazing sport that has the power to bring fans and players alike together. How many fans have had lunch room debates at work over a trade, signing, player, or game that’s lasted all lunch break? How many of us have had the opportunity to be part of a hockey team, be it in beer league, junior hockey, ball hockey, or even a street hockey tournament?

Our Garbage Affects Others

We’ve all in some capacity experienced the camaraderie and sense of belonging that being a part of a team or fan group brings. It’s a great feeling. Which is why it’s extremely disappointing when a small minority of people harass or personally attack people. Now I want to make it absolutely CRYSTAL CLEAR that I am not in any way trying to tell people how to fan. What I am suggesting is that a conversation needs to be started about negativity breeding negativity. My parents taught me a valuable lesson when I was young. Every person is a garbage truck.

I know, weird right? let me explain. Every single person carries garbage with them emotional garbage, mental garbage, physical garbage etc. Everyone has their own issues and we deal with it in different ways. My parents taught me to never dump my garbage on others, that garbage belongs solely in the garbage dump. What they meant by that is while it’s okay to express and feel anger/sadness/disappointment it is not okay to take that out on others. Garbage should be properly and healthily disposed of, not used to affect others.

When that happens it just adds more garbage to the person you dumped it on, and in turn they dump that on to the next person and so on. It creates a vicious and hateful cycle of words that can seriously cause harm to a person. This is all too common in the hockey world. Certain fans frequently antagonize another, and spew very hateful words that would not be repeated face to face. Either because they hide behind a screen, or will never directly interact with that person again or ever. Just recently a big example of this was John Tavares and his return to Nassau.

John Tavares

Recently John Tavares returned to New York and Islanders fans were in a justifiably bad mood. It was a night full of sacrificed jerseys, plastic snakes, boos, and “it’s past your bedtime” cheers. Some of what went on was funny, entertaining, and light-hearted. Personally I don’t support jersey burning but to each their own. I’m an Edmonton fan and we know a thing or two about ribbing a former player. Taylor Hall, Devan Dubnyk, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, and Jeff Petry still get booed every time they touch the puck or make a save here. Some of them were traded away a good 5 years a ago now, so I get it. Open wounds take time to heal. However, there should not ever be verbal or physical violent towards another hockey fan like in this case:

There’s a lot to unpack here but first I want to address that I am very aware people like this are the small minority. However this is an extreme example of what we as fans need to stay away from. First off how is John Tavares leaving this fan’s fault? It’s very obvious that these individuals are taking out their frustrations by abusing this fan. Secondly, I hope they caught the people guilty of this. Banning them permanently from the arena would send a strong and right message.

Go on any hockey forum/Facebook group and you’ll see arguments everywhere. Arguments that consist of put downs, cursing, and sometimes even threats. This a common occurrence and it shouldn’t be. Why do some hockey fans feel the need to defend their stance on a team/player so strongly that they’d resort to hurling threats and insults to get the other person to change their mind? It paints the hockey community as a bunch of raving lunatics and it’s my least favourite part of being a sports writer. In fact that exact reason is why I stopped (for the most part) writing trade scenario pieces. No matter what you say in one, no matter how you say it, some keyboard warrior is going to tell you are an idiot and don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s hard to hear that, especially when you do these things mostly for fun.

Conclusion

Hockey is a game. Taking hockey so seriously to the point of physical violence is sick. A person doing this in any other form of entertainment would be seen as insane! Could you imagine two people getting in a fist fight over an episode of The Price Is Right? This is just as ridiculous! Like I said in my opening sentence the hockey community is an awesome place. Just look at this story from the Montreal Canadiens:

Powerful stuff. Hockey is an amazing thing that unites people. Lets not let the minority of people who abuse the community to represent us as a whole. Lets spread positivity and help build the fan community up.

In Summary:

  1. Just because it’s not exactly what you want, how you want it, does not give you the right to harass anyone who does get what they want.
  2. Don’t dump your garbage in an unhealthy way, in the wrong place,.
  3. the hockey community is a wonderful place when it comes together.
  4. The intent of this article was not to try to preach on how to fan, but rather to spread awarness to the problem of toxic/harmful behaviours.

 

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Author: Ryan Boonstra (OilersAholic OG)