The Home Team

Ok, first post on a shiny new blog.

The first thing I want to write about is the home team. Most cities have one. Regardless of sport, there are a bunch of people in your town who put on a jersey and play a game just for your entertainment (and in the case of the pro athletes, they also play for their multi-millions of dollars that they are paid each year). I have an infinite respect for people who bleed the colours of their home team. That love them, no matter what. They will shell out a lot of money for their latest uniform update or tweak. They will spend thousands on seasons tickets, or shell out hundreds to see one game to sit in cramped seats, and enjoy the watered down flavour spectacle that a $9 beer has to offer, and watch the team lose. Again.

I have never been this person. I do not, and never have, cheered for the home team.

Growing up, I had the opportunity to watch one of the greatest collection of hockey talent ever assembled win numerous Stanley Cups. It was hockey in the 80’s, and nobody was doing it better than the Edmonton Oilers. A laundry list of Hall of Fame players, and the most exciting brand of hockey that perhaps has ever been seen.

And I hated them.

I didn’t like seeing them win. I didn’t like the players. I thought Gretzky was overrated because he never had to take a hit in his career. I always thought those orange and blue uniforms were grotesque to the eye, with an outdated team crest (I thought it was outdated even then, let alone twenty-some years later).

I became a fan of the Visiting Team.

This has left me without a true team when it comes to hockey. For the longest time, I loved the Detroit Red Wings, because they had my two all-time favorite players, Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom. But once those two eventually retired after their dazzling careers, I no longer felt a firm association to that team. So I tend to jump around every couple of years. I will cheer for the Islanders. And the Blues. I am an NHL nomad, all because I could never get on board with the Home Team.

I watch in glee as the Oilers suffer through a miserable season. I enjoy hearing the hate spewed from fans on sports talk radio after the games. And before the games. And during the games. Everybody has a solution to the Oilers’ problems, as do I. But deep down, I don’t want the problem to be fixed, because I want them to continue being awful. While there are few things that can unify a city (especially a Canadian city when it comes to hockey and the Stanley Cup), like a team that is a threat to hoist sports greatest trophy each year, I feel that we Edmontonians have become unified in our derision to our Home Team. They are terrible, and we hate them for it. With our actions during the Cup run of 2006, we have demonstrated that we aren’t able to control ourselves when the team is doing well, so this is pretty much the best thing. Let’s hate them together. It gives us something to talk about while waiting for the elevator, in line at the store, or other times when mindless chatter is needed.

The weather? Sure, it’s terrible. But how about those Oilers? They need to be fixed. And here is how.