I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to sports fans and the culture of sports. I even had a concentration on that area when I was in graduate school, writing and reading papers about things like the rituals of sports, fandom and the like. So one of my favorite things to do is observe fans and how they come to be the way they are, and respond to on and off ice/field/court actions.
Last night, I took my mom to her first AHL hockey game. My dad was in town for business, and mom needed something to pass the time while she was in Charlotte, so I invited her to a hockey game. Now, just a little background on my mom. She’s a very young thinking and acting early sixty-something, and enjoys sporting events, but I’d hardly really call her a fan of any of them. She enjoys the social element involved, and drinking wine (No beer for her! We’ll leave that for the real hockey fans!) and noticing the bizarre things I don’t pay attention to after seeing so many events over the years.
I was anxious to see what she thought about the Checkers. I’d taken her to a Hurricanes game a few years back which she enjoyed, but we were sitting up in the rafters of the RBC center. By comparison, on a weeknight in Charlotte, we were only a few rows from the ice, which put us within 25 feet of the fights that broke out, and mere inches from a puck that was deflected over the glass. She had a blast at the game, but had some interesting observations.
Mom was not a fan of the fights, but was interested to understand why they occurred, and realized pretty quickly that many fights are “staged” more to rile up the bench than anything else.
She was a bit offended by the Checkmates, and had no clue why they needed to show so much skin, or why they were so unnaturally tan. I snickered quite a bit when she complained over and over about the cheerleaders, because hers were the same things I complain about to myself each and every game. I come from an old school hockey opinion that cheerleaders do NOT belong at hockey games, and certainly not on the ice dancing or gyrating between periods. But that vent is for another entry altogether! As one of the Checkmates walked near us to pick up the chuck-a-pucks during the second intermission, Mom’s question to me was, “Oh my, those aren’t real, are they?” At first I thought she was referring to the soft rubber pucks, but no, she was referring to the boob job on the Checkmate in front of us.
My mom had a great time at the game. Aside from the Checkmates, she loved every bit of the event. The action on the ice, learning more about the rules, and seeing the players so up close and personal with the seats we had. She was very interested in where the players were from, and what “Nice boys” they seemed to be. She thought Muphy was a hulking goalie, until I explained how many pads he was wearing, and said really he has the same height and build of my dad, and she was glad he had so much protective equipment when pucks started flying, and especially when his mask was damaged during the third period.
Mom was also curious where the guys were from, and when I told her Canada and in general much colder places than Charlotte, that led her to decide that the Charlotte Checkers players would love the beach, and she wanted to invite the team to our beach house that has been in the family for over 60 years. I told her they would probably make a REALLY big mess, but she even volunteered to clean up after them if they tipped her well.
I’m not so sure we should give the guys an invitation anytime soon though, even if I agree that they would certainly love the warm weather of North Myrtle Beach. We’ll see though… maybe if they need a venue for a Calder Cup celebration this summer.