TAMPA, FL - MAY 3: Dwayne Roloson #35 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with teammate Adam Hall #18 after winning against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum on May 3, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Passion and Sports: How It Affects Us

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 25: A Tampa Bay Lightning fan yells at the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum on April 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

The fans of the major sports are all completely different from each other. Each large group of fans has their own set of quirks and superstitions that are completely different from another group of fans. Hockey fans watch games differently than soccer fans, football fans, basketball fans, and baseball fans. What makes us different, as hockey fans, is most likely the passion each and every one of us possesses for the sport.

This article isn’t explaining how hockey fans are better than other fans. I’ll leave you readers to argue that amongst yourselves. I am merely describing hockey fans and what makes us unique from other fans. The passion of a hockey fan is like no other fan. This isn’t because there are more fiery people in hockey fan bases, or because we’re just plain crazy (which we are, but that’s a non-factor). If you were to watch all of the “mainstream sports” as I call them (football, soccer, baseball, basketball, and hockey) side by side, you would notice a different emotional feel from each game. One who is not a sports fan by any means would be able to pick up from the atmosphere of a sporting event on television the emotions surging through thousands of people as they huddle around a playing surface. Those who lay their bodies on the line are the athletes: the heroes of each and every individual fan.

As we hockey fans watch our heroes fly up and down the ice, we also get to watch them take and receive good hits. Obviously, if your favorite player delivers a bone crushing hit, you are likely to shoot out of your seat and begin yelling and screaming; Of course, if your idol is knocked to the ice, that reaction will be quickly replaced by one of you yelling obscenities at the culprit. Hockey is a sport that involves many emotions. Soccer, especially at the international level, is a sport that involves what, in my opinion, emotion that rivals that of a hockey event. Soccer fans go all out, coloring their entire bodies in his or her team’s color, wearing jerseys, keeping track of the score on his or her phone… even while actually attending the game. Soccer fans and hockey fans can relate rather closely in terms of passion for the sport.

Baseball fans are known probably as the “nerds of sports.” This is in relation to the way statistics and percentages are used so heavily in baseball during each and every day of the season. A manager of a baseball team may make ten or more decisions per game on average. This involves whether he should pull his pitcher or not, who to bring off the bench, what pitch to throw to a certain batter on a certain count in a certain situation. Yeah, I think you understand the general idea. The fact is each and every one of the decisions a baseball manager makes during a baseball game is likely a result of looking at a bunch of numbers and percentages, some of which may only hold significant meaning to hardcore baseball fans. Of course, this isn’t to say Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning doesn’t look at statistical information at all.

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 25: Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning smiles as he talks to the media after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum on April 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The man with the scar (and entertaining facial expressions) probably looks at numbers such as save percentage, goals against averages, and points that each individual player on his team has on record. Of course, Boucher likely spends more time looking at the opposing team’s stats to get an idea of what game plan he should employ. Of course, Guy Boucher may also make changes during a game simply to try and change the emotion of the game and swing the momentum in favor of his team. In baseball, this is nearly impossible to achieve unless you ask your runner on first base to hip check the second baseman. As comical as it would be, it simply isn’t part of baseball. The emotional decisions a hockey coach makes not only affect his team, but the entire fan base. The emotion of a hockey team is as contagious as the common cold; it will grasp everyone in the arena by the neck and say, “Here I am!”

Football is a game that, by nature, is probably the most violent of the mainstream sports. So then, you readers may be asking, “Why would football be any less emotional and passionate than hockey?” Well, again, the nature of the sport is very violent: it involves constant physical contact. The players (especially linemen) are constantly taking a beating. Therefore, unless it’s a wide receiver getting pancaked after attempting to catch a long throw, or a tight end getting leveled as he sprints through the middle of the field, there usually isn’t much for fans to get angry or excited about (in regards to passion). Sure, there’s scoring the game winning touchdown, or nailing a highly unlikely 53-yard field goal against the wind as time runs down. I just don’t feel like it creates the same atmosphere that hockey games create. When a hockey player lays out another, it usually creates more of an impact. I mean, literally speaking, the players are moving faster because they are on ice skates, so an average hockey hit is likely more punishing than a football tackle. However, for whatever reason, hockey fans seem to indulge more in the physical aspect of the game than fans of football. Whether this is because hits are more appreciated in hockey than football is up to you.

However, going back to buzzer beaters; hockey goals happen so quickly, with much less, if any, prediction. This gives the crowd less time to realize “hey, we’re about to score!” I mean, in football, there comes a time during an 80-yard drive where a fan may be able to accurately guess what the outcome of the drive. And of course, a gift isn’t as fun if you know what it is before it’s unwrapped.

Basketball is definitely one of the most popular and commercialized sports in the United States. I mean, how much publicity did guys like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and, of course, Lebron James, get during the past year and a half to two? There is so much money involved in the NBA it almost becomes comical. Does everyone remember the NBA finals of last year’s spring? Ya know, when Lebron didn’t win the title with the Heat, and everyone decided that they were right in deeming him “not a clutch player”? I know I wasn’t the only one that noticed the amount of money American Airlines was making. Both the Mavericks’ arena in Dallas and Miami’s home arena were sponsored by American Airlines. The only way American Airlines could have gotten a better deal is by having the series go 7 games instead of 5; it’s ridiculous how much money the airline made from a sport. Of course, not many people pay attention to that part of the NBA. However, it is that very factor that may drown out the potential of a higher level of passion in the NBA’s fan base. More money leads to more commercializing, and fans normally don’t want to see advertisement. Fans are quite simple; they want to see games. Of course, with all the money involved, prices may jump sky high. This is true of any sport, so we won’t go into that. However, just watching NBA games can be a difficult task, with all of the commercialized items floating around your head. And you don’t think it affects the players’ egos? Just ask Dwight Howard. There seems to be more drama in the NBA than in any other sport, and it isn’t all good drama either. Of course, hockey is a little different. If you’re chirpy, you get knocked out.

TAMPA, FL - MAY 3: The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate a victory against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum on May 3, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

All in all, every sport does have its pros and cons. No one sport is better than the other. In hockey, some fans are not able to keep up with how fast things happen during the game, and find it hard to enjoy the game. Others think it isn’t violent enough anymore, and that the rules have been changed so much that they’ve become fuzzy. Of course, I love hockey, and I love the passion involved. This is why I am really really hoping that the NHLPA and the NHL are able to solve the CBA disagreements in order to have an on-time start to the season.

I tweeted yesterday asking for help with a topic, and got a fairly quick response from my significant other. She told me to analyze the fan bases of each pro sport league and compare them to hockey. I took her idea and ran with it and here ya go; a 1,500+ word article. She’s a new Tampa Bay Lightning fan that I’m breaking in this season, which is another reason why I really hope a new CBA comes on time. Follow her on Twitter: @ShortstuffShel

If anyone else has a topic suggestion, feel free to let me know. Enjoy your day everyone.

Follow me on Twitter: @Gabriel0430

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