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Understanding a fan's passion
Posted on May 12, 2006

Swinging white towels reading “Stanley Cup Playoffs: Mighty Ducks,” sporting homemade T-shirts embellished with the words “extinguish the Flames in the Pond,” and blowing feverishly into “quackers,” the sea of fans at the hockey Stanley Cup Quarter Finals, featuring the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim vs. the Calgary Flames, were anything but modest.

The Arrowhead Pond was packed to the brim with fans for the Ducks’ game six match-up against the dreaded Canadians. The series’ games before this one bounced back and forth between teams from Canada to California and from wins to losses.

This game six determined the Ducks’ fate in the playoffs: win and go on, or lose and it’s over.

Within this madness of quacking, Canadian trash-talk and charging cheers, my boyfriend Tony and I sat above it all with $40 seats in the very last row.

Last semester around this time, I found myself writing a similar column on hockey and the Ducks, however, with disgust for the overt promotion of violence in “civilized” sports and entertainment. That person from last semester, a mere face in the audience there for her boyfriend’s enjoyment, would not recognize the screaming, on her feet, towel-swinging Ducks fanatic at last week’s game.

Tony and I found a good excuse to get out of the house and into the Pond with only $15 cheap seats during the Ducks’ season. Slowly I began recognizing the players, following the NHL’s standings, and understanding the game. And when it came to playoff time, I had a team that I wanted to win the gleaming silver cup.

Although I consider myself a rather “sporty” girl – having been involved with sports all my life – I never had a team I followed with consistent fondness and dedication. I would cheer for my dad’s team during the Super Bowl or stick up for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes every now and then, but I never followed a team’s successes from my own will.

And during that chilling game six, there was no doubt I was a Ducks fan. Practically the only girl in the cheap seats wearing a Ducks T-shirt amid the bumbling, out-spoken male maniacs with a beer in one hand and a waving fist for the other, I gave their hollers stiff competition against my chants.

For anyone that follows hockey, you know the Ducks took down Canada that night and ultimately won the quarter finals series against the Flames.
And as they are currently playing in the Western Conference semi-finals, the Ducks are sitting pretty in the race for the cup shutting out the Colorado Avalanche in the first two games and defeating their opponents again on Tuesday night in a highly stressful overtime.

And I guarantee as this publication went to print last night, I was stuck to the TV watching the Ducks play their, hopefully final, game four.

Gluing my eyes to the TV and tuning my ears to the radio every time the Ducks play now, I have a deeper understanding to all the crazy fans out there painting their bodies and loosing their voices all in the name of supporting their favorite team.

It’s amazing to think how one team with one goal could bring together thousands of fans with such an excitement and confidence in their success.

The pinpoint of a fan’s passion derives from their competitive spirit. Even though I have never played hockey in my life, a part of me would love to bust out on the ice and skate with the Ducks (however, for the sake of the
Stanley Cup, let’s pray that never happens). As I’m sure most baseball fans would gladly jump onto the field to smack a home run and basketball fans would enthusiastically race to the court to shoot a free throw to help their team win. The drive to win in athletes can equally be seen in the heart of a fan.

Could you imagine if this sort of passion and dedication was applied to other areas of life?

Businessmen entering the boardroom with next year’s budget plan painted on their chests. Soccer moms pulling up to their child’s game in a lavishly painted mini-van supporting the team’s colors. Teachers playing “Eye of the Tiger” while students work diligently on a math test.

Of course there is a time and place for the behavior displayed at sporting events, but it would definitely make life more interesting.

Nicole Knight, a junior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at nknight@ulv.edu.