Thursday, March 01, 2012

On the Topic Of European Hockey Fans

As I have been enthralled with the career travels of Marty Turco this year, I've been putting myself in a position to watch more European hockey, mostly Austrian. Thanks to my buddy Anthony Russell over at Banners on the Wall, I've been able to get the streaming feed. While I haven't been able to understand much of what the commentators are saying (proving that those Rosetta Stone programs will do nothing for me); the atmosphere is something that translates all over the place.

The European hockey fans are those who are actually much more into the game than their North American counterpoints. Most of them are standing up during play, the have percussion instruments and organized chants to keep the energy up, they know what to do in order to get their team going and to maybe distract the other teams. I would say they are a combination of European soccer (or football, as they call it) fans and college basketball student sections-- totally into it regardless of the score or who they are playing, as well as to know the sport on a higher level than casual.

When it comes to the North American fan-- the passion is there, you can see it on Twitter and blogs-- but the actual game atmosphere seems to fall short. I don't know what there is about fans and being as reserved as they are; but with the passion many carry for the game, I am surprised about how little that translates to the live experience. Has the game become "too corporate" that the real fans can't be rowdy as they want to be?? Does the music being at an ungodly level during stoppages kill the fans habits?? Or is it just not accepted across the board from their peers that if fans start to do something out of the ordinary-- they'll be shunned and ridiculed?? Hell, even dance teams-- which are universally shunned in NHL arenas-- are very rampant in European arenas. The common defense is that if fans need to be hyped up like that, they shouldn't be there. Well, I haven't heard much hype in NHL arenas, dance team/ice girls or not.

Regardless of the case, the joy of watching European sports is the passion of it all. Most of these cities don't have much else aside from these teams, so the hysteria could be due to a strong hometown pride to it all; but even so-- would you think that many North American fans would be proud of their teams as much?? I know a lot of minor league fans have a stark pride with their area and would defend their team to the death, as well as tracking former players who made it big and taking credit for it-- which in part they should, because they saw them from a younger age and saw them evolve.  That is a case for the European squads, who have their players who are mostly from the country they play in, take to the fans and the pride. Even the North American players who come over get entrenched in the culture and area and embrace the fans and their passion for the team-- hoping not to let them down.

I should say all North American fans are quiet-- as the US College Hockey scene does have the same atmosphere as the basketball or football counterparts at time. The student sections often have a lot of high energy during the game, as well as marching bands there to give things more of an unique feel to the game to their professional counterparts.

In the end, it's not to say that the North American fans are bad in what they do, as there are a bunch of crazies in every arena trying to hype up the rest of the crowd-- sometimes to no avail, but it just seems that the game would be so much more entertaining in the stands if you had a variety of things going on in the stands while paying attention to the game action. It would also give more of a home-ice advantage to the teams if they had their own drum corps there to hype up the crowd and team. More players may want to play in that kind of atmosphere; but it could also shy some away when it came to trades or free agency.

No clue what the point of this whole thing was.....but.....that goes for most of this blog, huh??

5 comments:

bikesgonewild said...

...sorry, late to the game...just discovered your blog...

...'old school' hockey guy raised on the "original 6" as a leafs fans in northern ontario, now at 62, after 45 years in nor-cal, i'm prayin'the dougie wilson & sharks figure out the next step...

...anyway...hour & a half drive down from north of the golden gate bridge but a few buddies & i get to 4, 5 games a season...

..."the tank" has a reputation amongst players as a decent hockey venue because it's a loud & passionate barn...only one top pro sports team in san jose, so they do love their sharks...it gets loud & boisterous but jersey'd fans of opposing teams usually only get good nature'd ribbing...

...that being said, you've got your obvious hardcores living & dying with every play & you've got your probable corp-ticket types, there on a freebie, content to chat about everything but hockey until excitement builds to a roar...annoying as hell, to be honest...

...i guess i can understand but hate the need for electronic stimulus, the "let's make some noise" stuff on the scoreboard...

...i'm strictly a loud "let's go, boys" (what coaches have yelled since the beginning) or maybe a "who's house is this ???" type & that's during play 'cuz the music levels are both excessive & literally sustained from the moment the play stops until the puck hits the ice...

...dunno why the need for the excess when fans would prob'ly sustain a good energy level if given the chance...

...btw - not many comments, so i thought "hey, as a newbie, i guess i can be a bit excessive first time out..."...

ScottyWazz said...

Great first outing with it, sir.

And you're right-- the game has become corporate in North America, but there are places that are louder by nature than others, as we've seen with Winnipeg this year.

Plus, the electric stimulus and the need to try and get the crowd going-- there's way too much of it and it's far too loud at times. It's crazy how the artificial nature of things is used to put a fa├žade out there.

Great take and thanks for chiming in.

bikesgonewild said...

...it'd be an interesting experiment to go to a nhl game without all the pumped up music - just old school pipe organ stuff which could probly be replicated on a simple computerized keyboard these days...

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Will from saint james said...

Check out www.blueandorangearmy.com , my buddies and I have started an NHL supporters club for our beloved New York Islanders( yea yea bring on the jokes, I don't care). Our aim is to change exactly this. American fans are lazy and sit there waiting to be entertained, rather than truly getting into the experience.

When you stand all game and sing your heart out and beloved team responds by giving that extra little effort, that is what the fan experience is all about.