Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shut Your Yap : Lightning Bandwagon Fan Edition

Photo by Linda Hamilton

This Shut Your Yap goes out to all of the bandwagon fans who are starting to show up at the St. Pete Times Forum for games again. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy to have more people in attendance. Butts in the seats means more money being spent in the building means more money being spent to better the team and the facilities. A winning team doesn’t just bring in new fans, though. A winning team brings back the people who got into hockey for a brief period in 2004 when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. After that came the lockout and an extensive period of sucking, so they moved on to some other team. Now they’re back. They wear their 2004 merchandise and it still looks to be in mint condition. Like it’s been sitting in a drawer for the last almost 7 years. Or they’re wearing brand new gear that just had the tags removed. These are the people who sit behind you and complain about the play of every single guy on the team… except their favorite. And can’t tell the difference between Pavel Kubina and Victor Hedman. Or thinks they can do so much better than the guys on the ice. These are the people who spent most of the third period of last night’s loss to the Islanders BOOING the Lightning.

There are some things that are guaranteed to get me riled up at sporting events. One is uber obnoxious visiting fans. Another is booing your own team. Yes, last night’s game was very frustrating. Yes, I yelled at the Lightning from my seat in the upper level and voiced that frustration. But I would NEVER think of booing them. You haven’t been to a game in 7 years? You have no right to boo. I voluntarily spent money and have been supporting the team when they have missed the playoffs during the last four years. I have been there when they have been the worst team in the league. I’ve been there when they have been the second worst team in the league. I knew it was futile most of the time, but I never stopped cheering. I never stopped hoping for victory. I never stopped wearing my team colors.

Sports are cyclical. Hockey exemplifies this because any team can win on any given night. Any team has the chance to make the post season and win the Stanley Cup. It has nothing to do with hockey, but one of my favorite books is “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn. There is a quote that goes like this:

“You may glory in a team triumphant,… But you fall in love with a team in defeat.”

I love my team. I’ve been there for the highs and the more recent extreme lows. If you’re going to waltz in and out when the standings favor them, have more respect for the guys on the ice when you do make your cameo appearances.

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