Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Hockey: Just a Habit?

Ex-Leafs talking head, and current member of Canadian Parliament, Ken Dryden, decided to pipe in with his thoughts on the current NHL situation.

"I think that there are a number of fans in this country who have sensed over the last number of months that actually maybe it was more habit than it was passion.

"I think for the great majority it's still a passion, but others have discovered that maybe it was something else.

"And so, as much as this can be problematic in the U.S. and that's where it's usually talked about, I think it's also a problem in this country.''

hab•it (noun) - A recurrent, often unconscious, pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

I guess hockey does have some elements of a habit, at least in MY life.

1. Repetition – I (would) frequently turn to CBC (Channel 3 in VCR) at 4:00PM on Saturday nights to watch Hockey Night in Canada. I would also turn on the TV at night to the sports channels to see if there was a game on or not. Some people tune in to the nightly news at 6 o’clock, while others turn to the hockey games.

2. Diminishing Marginal Utility – Economists know this term...basically, the first of something (first chocolate, first Jolly Rancher, first vodka shooter, first marijuana joint) is always the tastiest. The second of something is less enjoyable, and the third less enjoyable, and so on and so forth. With hockey, the first games of the season are usually the best, and then they aren’t quite so enticing or appealing. This is a frequent attribute of any habit.

3. “It’s not good, but I like it” – The NHL is in danger of losing more and more fans as the on-ice product becomes more drab with each clutching infraction. Still, many fans, such as myself, still watch the games despite the fact that the quality of the product is lower than it used to be. With any addicting habit, the addict finds it hard to give up the habit, even when the habit is not that enjoyable at times.

4. It’s destructive – I can remember staying up very late to watch the hockey games during the 1998 Nagano Olympics. I failed some assignments and did poorly on exams because of this. I’ve also thrown objects at the TV on occasion and had some huge spikes in blood pressure thanks to watching hockey. Hockey isn’t always good for you :)

On the other hand, a habit normally doesn’t bring about the type of passion that has been exhibited in Canada at times.

After the 2002 Salt Lake City Gold Medal win, I was in a sea of 10,000+ people in downtown Vancouver reveling in victory. The whole city of Vancouver, as well as other large Canadian cities, was pretty much throwing one big ‘Gold Medal’ party.

Just look at how possessed Calgary was during the recent Stanley Cup playoffs! Women were taking their shirts off and fans were routinely partying in the streets. Apart from Mardi Gras, you don’t normally see this type of behavior.

Hockey: Many times, it feels like a habit...but the passion still exists.

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