I haven’t watched a full hockey game in thirty years. But yesterday, I tuned the car radio and listened to the gold medal game between Team Canada and Team USA from the moment the puck dropped. As soon as I got home, I joined my wife who was already watching it on NBC (she hasn’t watched a full hockey game since never). For sixty-seven minutes and forty seconds we followed the puck, cheered the precise agility of the skating, and marveled at the reactions of the goalies. We loved the game.
So did tens of millions of other Americans and essentially, the entire hockey-mad country to our North (early ratings numbers here). For a people who learn to skate before they walk, the Canadian hockey obsession makes obvious sense. But Americans largely ignore the game. Last year’s NHL All Star Game drew a measly .8, literally losing to reruns of Murder She Wrote in the ratings. As far as popularity on TV goes, the NHL ranks tenth behind the NFL, NASCAR, College Football, College Basketball, MLB, the NBA, the PGA, Boxing and the UFC. True hockey fans hope that the excitement generated by this thrilling game will bring new fans to the sport and they may be right. I certainly plan to tune in to more Blackhawks games, given that our winger and center scored 40% of the goals in the Olympic final.
Jumping on a bandwagon can be a hill of fun. That’s why so many of us do it. The city-wide excitement championships generate is the single best aspect of professional sports. Joining a majority and cheering in unison my be the total opposite of independent thinking, but it sure feels great.
So great, it would be nice not to consign that feeling to once every four years. To that end, Go Blackhawks!