Spectators More Entertaining Than Hockey

Not long ago, myself and some of the other cultured gentlemen of The Minaret staff were trying to decide how we would spend the fifteen minutes between the release of one newspaper and the start of work on the next. Somehow or other, the subject turned to sports.

I rarely have much to say on this subject, since, much to my great dismay, neither chess nor solo synchronized eating are widely considered to be sports. Nevertheless, the other men, all of whom I’m sure could fell an antelope with a single blow and drag it homeward from the wild without pause for food, rest, e-mail or iPod, were interested to know if there was any kind of sport I enjoyed watching.

“You know what I really enjoy in sports?” said I. “Violence.”

Last Friday, we attended a hockey game.

Needless to say, this involved extensive preparation on my part. Taking aside several sports writers, I first tried to determine which one of them was Mike and which was Peter (somehow, I failed at this repeatedly, eventually declaring Mike to be Peter and Peter to have an as-yet undetermined third name).

This done, I asked a series of probing questions about the sport itself. For example, what is the proper name of the arena in which ice hockey takes place (it is called a rink) and how long does an ice hockey game last (there are three fifteen minute periods). Then I got to the really difficult questions, such as: Why are we going to go watch Atlanta play Tampa Bay? Most people in these two places have never even seen snow. And: Is beating one another with the hockey stick actively discouraged or just frowned upon?

After determining which hockey squadron I should be rooting for and confirming arrangements to attend a future boxing game, it was time to settle into someone else’s seat and watch some hockey. Unfortunately, Journalist Onset ADD reared its ugly head, and within about two minutes I was turning around in my seat to read the advertisements flashing by on the far walls.

This might actually be a good thing, as I was treated to what I think was the best show of the night. As a man and several children walked by one of the nearby rows, having returned from getting cotton candy or hot dogs or crack cocaine or something from the concession stand, one of the boys jostled a woman’s cup, causing her to spill a tiny amount of beer.

The boy was about six, decked out in a jersey (I have no doubt he was better at differentiating one team from another than I) and a clown wig. He certainly had no impression of running into the woman. But the woman was unsatisfied that this was an innocent mistake.

“EXCUSE ME,” she said, becoming one of the only people I’ve ever met who speaks in all caps. “YOUR SON SPILLED MY BEER.” After somewhat less than a minute, she apparently felt neglected, and decided to repeat this same phrase even louder. Horns began to sprout on her head. In the distance, ravens cackled. Unsatisfied, she continued until the man stood, walked past seven others to speak to her, and eventually agreed to purchase another beer, to make up for the several droplets that had been misappropriated.

Madam, I would like to commend your impeccable taste and good judgment. Let me say first that I recognize the fact that beer at the St. Pete Times Forum approaches, per Dixie Cup, the current market price of crude oil, and that it is entirely possible you had to take out a second mortgage to afford the beer that was spilled. Likewise, do not think me over-sympathetic to the plight of young children in clown wigs. To me, children are of no particular inherent value until they demonstrate both a willingness and an ability to discuss the works of Immanuel Kant.

Sadly, many never do.

However, you have fallen prey to one of the classic blunders. You have made the same mistake as the sort of overzealous manager who pulls aside a subordinate and screams for ten minutes in full view of the public because they were two minutes late to an important presentation.

You, in fact, chose to turn a two minute personal problem into a ten minute dilemma for everyone in earshot. Presented with the image of a child in a clown wig, you could only think of a mouthful of beer, which, presumably, you were drinking so you could relax.

Other than that, my first sports viewing experience was a rousing success. The home team won, which is apparently a good thing. Afterwards, we somehow managed to find ourselves in a location where there was all the beer one could ever want. With hockey as my “gateway” sport, I am looking forward to future endeavors in bullfighting, bear-baiting and Roman-style gladiatorial bloodsports.

However, I have launched a new scheme to view events only from the press box. This will require some work to pass myself off as a legitimate journalist, but it will be worth it. At least, I hope, most sports journalists are not six-year-old children or crazy women.

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