There have been two developments that have greatly altered my hockey watching in the last 10 years. In the last ten days really. . .
- The acquisition of Hi Def Television.
- The Bruins played a game at Fenway Park.
Due to these two events Liam and I spent the afternoon watching a sport where he knew about as much about the game and teams as I did. I haven’t watched a hockey game since I was manager of an East Side Mario’s restaurant in Ramsey New Jersey. The NJ Devils played into the early morning against the Colorado Avalanche in a triple or quadruple overtime Stanley Cup Finals Game. We kept the bar open late that night and even though we stopped serving booze when we were supposed to, I remember worrying that if the cops came in and found that many people in the place after the state ‘Last Call’ I’d lose my job.Well they didn’t and I didn’t. We had a large bell behind the bar and were ringing it like crazy when the devils finally scored. (truth be told I’m not sure who won but I’m almost positive we ended up leaving in a good mood.)
That was about ten years ago. Today I ran some errands in the morning and I was reminded that the Bruins were playing the Flyers outside at Fenway today. It was all everyone was talking about on sports talk radio. I’ve been told by friends at work that watching hockey on HD is much more fun since seeing the puck is easier. They were right. The first period and intermission were entertaining in the way that watching any novelty sporting event is for me. Sure I’ll watch the lumberjack competition but I’m not going to follow the careers of the North American axe throwing champion. Montages of Fenway and all its historic moments scattered throughout the broadcast made me miss baseball more than enjoy hockey but midway through the game that started to change. It wasn’t a particular play or moment but I found myself yelling at the TV. “Get it out of the zone!” “Pass it, PASS IT!” and “What the hell is icing?” echoed through the house as Liam tried to ignore his dad and nap. (He’ll learn not to even try sleeping during sporting events. Wait til Red Sox season starts.)
With about 7 minutes left in the game the Bruins scored to bring the game to a 1-1 tie and I really got into it. My Mom, Dad and Sister were over to visit so they could keep the baby occupied while I laid on the floor in front of the TV and cheered for a local team I know nothing about. It was fun. Made all the more fun when the Bruins won in overtime. Watching Fenway celebrate is fun no matter the sport. We all took notice of the win and celebrated and I found myself extremely happy that I spent the time watching. I doubt I’ll watch another Bruins game this season. Maybe, if they make it to the finals I will, but probably not. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a fan today.
When the Red Sox lost the ’86 Series I cried my 9 year old eyes out. It was the beginning of a lifelong lesson my dad would try in vain to teach – “Its only a game”. The lesson wouldn’t take for another 24 years. Until last year I was a horrible person to watch sports with. My wife the Yankee fan would choose not to watch her beloved team because she didn’t want to deal with my comments and yelling. I wear losses on my sleeve and can be very loud in my disappointment with both the athletes and the umpires or officials. It’s not “just a game” to me.
Until last year. Liam changed all that. How could I really get upset over the bounce of a ball when Liam was going through so much? I learned what’s really important in life. Family. And even though I may have made a smart comment here and there, I was able to sit calmly and let Karin watch the Yankees win the World Series. No longer would I shout and scream at an MLB conspiracy and pointless rants about payroll and fairness. Not this year. After all its “just a game” right?
But sports is more than a game. Always will be. In 2004 thoughts above Boston were not only happiness that people’s favorite team had won, but that loved ones also got to witness it. “I’m just glad my Grandmother got to see them win” and other sentiments flooded the talk radio airwaves the next morning. That win brought families and loved ones together. When the Boston Celtics won their last championship all I could think of was a friend of mine who had been called away on military service and was unable to watch the championship run of his favorite team and how much it meant to him to miss that. Today I watched the Bruins beat the Flyers in a regular season game in Fenway surrounded by the people I love. It was supposed to be “just a game” but about halfway through, all sorts of family togetherness and fun broke out. Cheesy I know, it’s like a hallmark movie around here lately. But what happened at Fenway today, that wasn’t just a game to me.
What a way to start the new year.