Many years ago, I worked at a small community newspaper.
One of the reporters I worked with was a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan. One day, she and her then-boyfriend (now husband) went to see the Leafs play against the Ottawa Senators here in Ottawa.
She was wearing her Leafs jersey. During an intermission, she ran to the bathroom. As she was washing her hands, someone snuck up behind her, yelled Leafs suck, and suckerpunched in the back of the head. That person then took off.
She wasn’t able to enjoy the rest of the game. The incident made her pretty upset, and she told me she was in tears and some pain.
I don’t know if she reads my blog, but she should take solace in one thing: There are a lot of ignorant people attending NHL games all over Canada and U.S. She’s not alone.
A story came out a few days ago about a Canucks fan who lives in San Jose. She’s 16 years old. When she was 12 years old, she had surgery to remove a tumour from her brain. The Vancouver Canucks players visited her in the hospital.
According to the Mercury News, and reposted on Yahoo:
One intoxicated woman wearing a Sharks jersey, who appeared to be in her 40s, kept bumping into the teens and yelling curses at them, the two sisters said.
Then, as the fans jumped up to celebrate a second period Sharks goal, the sisters said, the woman behind them brought down both her hands and smacked Maggie in the back of her head “really hard,” forcing Maggie to fall forward and leaving her dazed. Her sister then rushed to an usher. Maya said she heard the woman tell the usher “she’s a Canucks fan,” but that she “didn’t mean to” hurt her.
… Maggie said that after being hit, ushers and paramedics rushed her into an ambulance, and that’s when another Sharks fan walked by and noticed the girl’s Canucks gear.”He looked in and said, ‘You’re faking it, you don’t need an ambulance, suck it up,’ ” she recalled, tearing up.
Maggie ended up with a concussion. According to the Yahoo story, which quotes the Associated Press: “According to the Sharks, the other fan told police and arena staff the contact was accidental and occurred during the celebration of a Sharks goal.”
I don’t want to call anyone a liar, but if you look at the box score, the Canucks took a 2-0 lead. How could it be in celebration of a Sharks goal when they hadn’t scored a goal?
There are stories like this at arenas all over. Philadelphia has a reputation for being stupid to opposing fans. I’ve heard of fights in the stands between Habs and Bruins fans at both arenas.
Of course, it’s not limited to just hockey. A San Francisco baseball fan was attacked at a game in L.A. this year and had to be in a medically-induced coma. He’s now undergoing intensive rehabilitation therapy.
In the NFL preseason this year, two Oakland Raiders fans were shot in the parking lot, and one was beaten unconscious in the bathroom, during a game in San Francisco.
And the history of soccer hooliganism is well documented.
Rivalries are great. A little fun smack-talking can be a great thing, as long as it’s all in jest. And when the game is over, you shake the other fans’ hands and tell them you had a good time.
But you don’t attack someone. People should just smarten up. If your happiness or sadness in life depends on a hockey game so much that you need to attack other fans to feel better, you need to get a life. Just enjoy the game. It’s not worth potential jail time.
But first, you need to stop being a hockey fan. Because you’re not worth it to anyone, especially the NHL.