Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hockey Rant in Canada: An Open Letter to Idiotic Male Hockey Fans

A few months ago a friend of mine hooked me up with a job doing guest
services for the Abbotsford Heat. What can I say? I get paid to
check tickets and watch hockey. (I'm sorry, this is a JOB? What?) In
any case, because I work weeknights at my other job, I can only really
work the Heat's Saturday games (so about 1/4 of their home games).
Tonight was my second night.

The Heat won 4-2, but the game was theirs. They scored 5 minutes into
the first and totally dominated the Milwaukee Admirals, who only got
on the board at about 5:20 in the third. And it was Matt Halischuk who
scored their first goal. My WJC boys do me so proud... :D

Earlier this week I was actually wondering where he'd gone after
junior. Apparently, he went to Milwaukee... Matt Halischuk was on Team
Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championhip with the trio of awesome:
Stefan Legein, Karl Alzner, and Steve Mason. Although Halischuk
wasn't a huge contributor throughout the tournament in Pardubice, he
scored one very crucial goal: the OT game-winner in the gold medal
game that year. It was so epic because he's not really that clutch;
he just got lucky and got 'er done. Which is sometimes how you win
championships.

Tonight, I was working up in the club lounge in Abbotsford which is
accessible from the stands but only if you have seats in Section 100
or in a suite. (Section 100 is at centre ice behind the penalty box.)
Most of the people I dealt with were awesome, but there was this one
guy who was the dad of a kid involved with the 50-50 draw who was ...
Oh man... There are no words. No polite ones, at least.

We were chatting about minor hockey and the former Vancouver Giants
who were playing (Lance Bouma and Jon Blum) and other players I'd seen
play in junior (notably Mitch Wahl) and I mentioned that without my
glasses on I couldn't tell which number Matt Halischuk was so I asked
if I had it right (I did). This man kind of smirked and asked me if
I'd scoped out Halischuk's photo earlier and thought he was cute. I
just stared. My response was just brutal, mostly because of my tone.

I didn't even answer the question he'd asked. Instead, I told him I
was rooting for Halischuk because he scored the GWG for Canada in
sudden-death over-time of the gold medal game of the 2008 WJC. And
then I turned back to the game. I mean, what the hell? We'd been
talking about hockey for over ten minutes. I knew more about the teams
than he did (which is impressive given that I know practically ZILCH
about the western conference of the AHL). And his kid was right there.
His kid, who was maybe eleven or twelve, looked mortified by the
comment his dad made. That made me a little happy; at least the kid
respected me.

I was thinking about it in the car on the way home and something
finally clicked. This has happened before, that men make comments like
that after ample proof that I know my shit about hockey. And then it
occured to me -for the first time ever- that maybe they're doing it
BECAUSE I KNOW MY SHIT MORE THAN THEY KNOW THEIRS, that maybe they do
it in a twisted attempt to bring me down a notch.

To that I have only one thing to say: screw you, sir.

I understand that there is this ingrained assumption that girls like
hockey because the guys are cute or rich or talented (or all three in
the case of guys like Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal or Jonathan
Toews). But this has to stop. Yes, as a heterosexual female, I will
OPENLY admit to thinking that Kris Letang is gorgeous. But you know
what's even prettier than his floppy hair and his oh-me eyes? HIM
SCORING FROM THE POINT IN THE THIRD PERIOD OF A PLAYOFF GAME TO TIE
THE GAME BACK UP FOR A TEAM I'VE BEEN ROOTING FOR SINCE I WAS FIVE
YEARS OLD. That's what is what I love most about him. That, and the
fact that as of yesterday Letang was on pace for 82 points this
season. Just like Marian Hossa. (Dear Hossa, Please go die. No Love,
A Still-Disgruntled Sens Fan) Did I mention how much I love offensive
d-men? Did I? Cause I do. I love the game, and I love the players who
play for the teams I love, no matter what they look like.

What annoys the hell out of me is the fact that obviously some men
cannot separate sex drive from sports. My preference for players is
not based on looks, nor is it often even based purely on talent,
mostly my favouritism is based on ridiculous criteria like a few
clutch goals in game seven of the Cup Final (Max Talbot, can I buy you
a bottle of scotch for that?) or how much they made me laugh during
the worst Christmas of my life (do not even get me started on how
awesome Stefan Legein is...) or the fact that they can't skate for
beans but they were the scariest 19-year-old sniper I've ever seen
(Dany Heatley, I should loathe you... but I cannot do it. I will
defend you to the death).

Sure, this is not the most logical criteria, but when has logic ever
factored into hockey? Think about it: how insane would you have had
to be to say "I'm bored... you know what we should do? LET'S STRAP
METAL BLADES TO THE BOTTOMS OF OUR BOOTS AND GO OUT ON THIS FROZEN
POND IN THE DEAD OF WINTER AND WHACK THIS PIECE OF FROZEN COW SHIT
AROUND WITH CURVED STICKS!!!! THAT SOUNDS LIKE AN AWESOME PLAN!!!!"
You would have had to have been effing bonkers, is what.

So pardon my for picking my favourites based on strange criteria, and,
gentlemen, if you truly are gentlemen stop assuming female fans are at
a game for the eye cand and ought to be impressed by YOUR hockey
knowledge. Try being impressed by ours, for once. Or at least try
not to betray your intimidation by accusing us of being something we
almost certainly are not.

If you want to go as far as applying logic, here's some for you: if my
objective really was to get with one of the players, would I have
taken a job that forbids me from speaking to them unless they speak to
me first? [FYI, the correct answer is NO. If that was my objective,
I'd have a ticket to the game and be sitting in some hideously visible
locale trying to look cute and be distracting. Instead I am forty
feet away from the boards, in the lounge chatting with season ticket
holders and your SON, who is visibly impressed that I know Tim Thomas'
current save percentage (.984, just so YOU know...) and that I saw
John Tavares play when he was still a General.]

And next time some female hockey fan tells you she's rooting for a
player, kindly assume it's for more or less the same reason you root
for any given player.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

'Africa'

Back in the day ('the day' being any given Sunday in the 1997 to 2002ish span), we used to tease these two brothers in my church youth group about being from 'Africa.' Not actual Africa, we (my church and all of the members of its congregation) were WAY to P.C. for that. These brothers lived in Russell, Ontario... which you have never heard of. (Don't lie, you've never heard of it.)

Russell is a tiny little town outside of Metcalfe (which you've also never heard of) off Highway 417 in the Eastern Townships (ditto above), which is itself southeast of Gloucester (which, admit it, you've ALSO never heard of, unless you're a massive Dan Boyle fan) and is mostly farm-type land that does not do much of anything but buffer Ottawa from those crazies down in Upstate New York. That, and produce milk and maple syrup.

Thing is, we teased these boys and we called Russell "Africa" because it was FAR away -so far that I never went to their house in the 6 or so years I knew them- but also because it kind of scared us to go there.

A couple of weeks ago, my prof used the following map in class when we were talking about media coverage of wars in Africa. The map is 100% to scale.



A little scary how many countries (BIG countries) fit inside the continent, isn't it?

I think sometimes people forget just how huge Africa is, and how many people live there. I think it's easy to forget (or to deliberately not think about it) because when you actually try to wrap your head around it, it ends up hurting a little from having to stretch so much. Africa is still a big mystery to most of us. I've been wanting to go there for 20 years (literally, since I was seven years old). I've traveled quite a bit, so what's stopping me from going to Africa?

Money, for one: plane tickets to Tanzania are WAY more expensive than tickets to Toronto. Malaria medication (and all the other shots you have to get). Visas. And... as reluctant I am to admit this, fear. Africa (like Russell) is a long way from home. I'm good with new places, but I'm not sure I could parachute into a given country in Africa and just wing it the way I tend to do when I travel. In intimidating places, planning is my fallback which, if you know me well at all, you know is not my forte. But mostly it's fear. I think most of it is simply a fear of the unknown: of not knowing what may go wrong.

A few years ago in London, I got pick-pocketed (in Westminster Abbey of all places). I was pissed off, but I wasn't ever scared. I knew the language. I had my train ticket back to Brighton. I knew where I was sleeping that night. And I knew that I had a friend whose parents would bail me out if I was in really serious trouble. Maybe that's the trick: most of the places I travel, I know people. I don't know anyone in Africa. Which shouldn't stop me from going there, but probably has at least a little. If something went wrong, I'd be a long way from home with no one close by to give me advice or to help me out if I got myself into trouble (and let's be realistic, I am MORE than capable of getting myself into the strangest situations *coughnearlydrowningintheNorthSeacough*).

That map, however, gave some validity to my worries about traveling to (and in) Africa. It's a huge continent, just huge, and even if I knew someone in one country, it wouldn't necessarily be much help. Flying home to Ottawa from Vancouver is a heck of a trip, one I tend to avoid because I lose a day of travel going there. Flying from Cote d'Ivoire to South Africa would be no less daunting. Probably more so.

The strange thing is that, sitting in my chair in the library at school, I'm no less determined to go at some point. The map simply made me realize that this will have to be planned -well planned- and that my extensive talents using Hotwire and CheapTickets will be of absolutely no use.

So... on that note, who wants to go to Africa? In, say, early 2012? Anyone?