I suppose it’s time to make a confession, considering something that is dominating the conversation among many people I know. While hockey is on the minds of people across the country, and people will be tuning in to the finals of the Stanley Cup, I will not. In fact, you will never see me tuning in to a hockey game willingly, because I hate hockey.
I bring it up only because people assume that, if you live in this country, you like hockey. It’s supposed to be “Canada’s game,” isn’t it? So as someone who lives in Canada, and has lived here all his life, people assume I care about what’s happening in these playoffs and that I have some opinion on the comings and goings of the various players and teams. So I am looking forward to the end of the season, but for a different reason, because I don’t want to hear about it anymore.
It’s something that began in childhood, where people would start talking about their favorite teams and, as a little kid, I was expected to have a favorite team myself. Naturally, since I didn’t like the sport, I didn’t want to talk about the best teams or what my players were doing at any point. I didn’t have any players, so I couldn’t speak with any authority anyway. Of course, since I live in this country, I didn’t have that option.
I did hatch a clever plan to make sure nobody bothered talking to me about hockey back in the day, one that actually worked well for several years. When asked what my favorite team was, instead of picking a team that could win games or had popular players that did well, I deliberately chose the worst team possible. I went to the standings, looked at the bottom, and picked the team with no notches in the win column. That team was the Tampa Bay Lightning, which spent most of the ‘90s losing games and ensuring nobody would want to talk to me about the sport. After all, my favorite team was the worst one of the lot, I knew nothing about it and was probably depressed about their record.
Of course, that lead to unintended and rather amusing consequences years later when the Lightning actually did get good and had successful runs in the playoffs. As my friends at the time knew I knew nothing about hockey, I mocked them because I was a “life long fan” of the Lightning and clearly I knew how to pick a winner long before they had any hope of winning. So, in spite of paying no attention to the sport, I’d poke fun by saying I knew everything, given that my team was clearly good. I didn’t actually watch a game either, and only supported them if it annoyed hockey-enthusiast acquaintances.
If it was any other sport, I wouldn’t have had to take that measure. I’m not expected to have a favorite basketball or baseball team, for example, and while football is a big deal it’s not like I had much choice in a team to support, growing up where I did – and I actually do enjoy football very much, so I’m not annoyed by people asking about it. But if you grow up in Canada, you’re expected to be a hockey fan, even if you really aren’t. I’m sure there are lots of kids out there trying to find ways to get people to stop talking to them about the sport, or get them to support a team. Eventually, they might be able to find a group of friends who doesn’t care, and until then it’s useful to show you know nothing about it.