7 Struggles of Being A Hockey Fan In the South
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7 Struggles of Being A Hockey Fan In the South

The struggle can be real but it doesn't have to be.

7 Struggles of Being A Hockey Fan In the South
Official Blackhawks Website

Don’t get me wrong, SEC football runs through my veins like blood, but last year I rediscovered a sport that I vaguely remembered watching as a kid. A sport so intense, so competitive, and so Canadian that it’s often called the fastest sport of all. If you haven’t guessed by the title of this article I am talking about hockey. Hockey isn’t very popular here in the South, and that could be because there’s no ice to speak of, but it does have small pockets of following below the Mason Dixon Line, including NHL franchises in Dallas, Nashville, and Tampa Bay. The pickings may be slim but the struggles to be a fan of the game are still worth it.

1. If you want team merchandise you’re going to have to order online.

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that wherever you go in the South there are no shortages of football t-shirts, jerseys, cups, car stickers, and even backpacks. The SEC logo can be seen as easy and as often as churches can. Unfortunately, finding merchandise for a hockey team is not so easy. If you want something even as simple as a t-shirt you have to be ready to shell out at least $25 and pay shipping fees. If you want a jersey to represent your favorite player good luck because the cheapest option is to find a very good knockoff.

2. The constant “wait, where are you from?” questions.

As I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised in Georgia (I have a thick accent to prove it) but whenever I begin to talk to people about hockey they never fail to look at me and ask, “So, where are you from?” The idea of someone from the South liking hockey is incomprehensible to some; people forget that Atlanta had an NHL franchise until recently, so the confusion becomes palpable until I explain that I’m from Georgia but I discovered a love for hockey completely by accident. P.S. RIP Atlanta Thrashers 1997-2011, you tried I guess?

3. Good luck finding sports channels that airs game play.

My love for hockey has helped me discover the skill of locating illegal live streams which aren’t likely to be shut down by the Hockey Gods (or the NHL Network as it is commonly called). On the rare occasion that a hockey game is being aired on normal TV networks it is usually the teams I don’t like, two of my favorite teams are playing at the same time, it is very late at night, or it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I feel like such an impressive hacker when I tap into a video stream that is being aired in Canada and get to view my players uninterrupted, except for the buffering that tends to happen every three minutes when there are big plays or big fights.

4. There is no one to trash talk with.

When I watch sports I tend to get very emotional; I cheer and smack talk when we win and scream and smack talk when we lose. So when I watch hockey I get frustrated by the lack of mutual response. None of my friends watch hockey and I managed to drag my sister into liking the same team as me, which makes bantering back and forth pretty much impossible. Sure I yell at the TV, but it isn’t as satisfying when the TV can’t respond with its own insults. A fun fact in hockey lingo they don't "trash talk" they "chirp."

5. Never being completely sure how to ice skate.

Sure there are ice skating rinks that show up around Christmas time but the type of skating experience needed to lace up and play hockey is built over the course of an entire lifetime. You have to find ice skates, replacement blades, sticks, pucks, and so many other things that are just not available in our local Hibbett stores. The pros make it look easy gliding around on the ice, but with no background ability all you end up with is a bruised tailbone and wounded pride.

6. If you want to see your team play, it’s going to involve a plane ticket.

Aside from my college’s hockey team if I ever want to see my favorite team play a game on real life ice it will involve a not so cheap plane ticket, planning months in advance, and booking a hotel stay. I know this because I have done it this month; my sister and I will be going to a Chicago Blackhawks game in February and couldn’t be more excited but it has taken a large chunk of change and a lot of saving up to get us there. I wish my favorite sports were equally accessible, I wish I could just drive to a hockey game the way I do a football game but maybe it’s in the struggles that dedication emerges.

7. I can never convince people to give it a try!

Hockey has a lot to offer; fierce competition, cool traditions, skill, and attractive players, and yet no one in the South wants to give it a chance because it's not football. So if you're reading this and want to give it a try I say go for it! Watch some hockey videos on YouTube (even just the fights) and see for yourself just how cool, pardon the pun, hockey can be!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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