My fascination with the rules of sports began many, many years ago. As a NASCAR fan, I was amazed by two things. First, that the actual rule books were kept under lock and key. I remember reading blogs, and articles, etc., where it was always mentioned how hard to come by the actual rule books were, and only competitors got them. The second thing I was amazed and intrigued by was how apparently, they were written in pencil with the way NASCAR would change the rules so frequently throughout the season. In grad school, one of the many ideas I had for writing my thesis was going to be on the idea of intentional rules violations in sports (i.e. “Cheating”) and how it affected the games. I still need to write that thesis… the problem is I’ve come up with about a dozen different ideas since then regarding sports communication and culture. I still think one of my greatest academic feats could be to analyze Chad Knaus’ ability to find minute shades of grey and make the most of them.
My desire to see an actual NASCAR rule book continued for what seemed like years, and I even thought about bidding on one on ebay the occasional times I’d see them for sale. Little did I know that after I paid the $3000 or whatever it was to get my hard card when I was working for a NASCAR sponsor that along with my “welcome” package from NASCAR, they’d sent me my very own bound copy of the rule book. It was as if I’d received the golden ticket to the Willy Wonka factory. I had a rule book! Granted, I didn’t need it at all for my job, but the geek inside me obsessed with rules and rule breaking couldn’t get enough of it. I marked it up and highlighted it, and kept the emails from NASCAR with the frequent rule changes throughout the season.
Today, I downloaded my very own copy of the AHL rule book. It was much easier to come by, especially since there is a public download link for anyone to use. (It’s here in case you need your own.) I can’t wait to read it, even the boring parts like the measurements of a goalie stick, and the size of mesh required in the goal net. I’ve already got ideas swimming through my writer’s brain on things to “blog” about that I know I will find within the pages of the rule book. There are all kind of fascinating things you can learn. I have a feeling the more I learn, the more I’m going to want to know, though.
I’ve really only cracked the surface in my reading. I also want to do more personal analysis of the games this season that have had four officials (two linesmen and two refs) versus the standard AHL three. I know the AHL is using four as a trial/experiment this year at select games, but I’d be very interested to learn specifically what they are looking for with this fourth official, and how having them affects game outcomes.
For those of you who are fans of my mom (though I get to have the title of her BIGGEST fan, sorry folks!), you will be excited to learn that she is coming to Charlotte again this week, and her first question to me was whether or not there was a Checkers game while she is here, and if she could come with me if so. I can’t wait to hear her second game impressions, and hope she has some gems like she did the first time around.