rough notes

Cultural Observations #32: Major Junior Hockey

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I spent the evening watching a QMJHL playoff hockey game between the Halifax Mooseheads and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Halifax beat their island counterparts 5-4, but the game could nearly have been Cape Breton’s. Had not the visitors played such an undisciplined first ten minutes, which saw them down two goals and at one point penalty killing on a 5-3 situation, then quite possibly the home team could have lost the match. The fact that Halifax could **not** score on Cape Breton’s empty net in the final minutes while they had control of the puck in their zone is a testament to Cape Breton’s determination to play out the game to the final seconds.

Sitting in our section was a large group of scots who were more than happy to be there and to cheer on the home team. There were many outbursts of “Come on, lads!” and the odd “ach!” to drown out the Cape Breton fans’ “eh bye!” one section down the way. These fans were determined to make a football match out of the hockey game. There were endearing moments, including the chants of “olé, olé-olé olé!” and some sing-songs of obscure folk songs, but sometimes they got out of hand. All in all, I found the mom and daughter sitting next to me (“yes honey, that is a man wearing moose antlers on his head”) more charming than the scots were entertaining. I decided they were nothing more than cultural derivatives of themselves when they started repeating a really bad Simpsons clip with the music being played: there is only so much “saxa-ma-phoone!” one can take, accent or no accent.

Regardless, i thoroughly enjoyed myself, as I always do when I go check out a Mooseheads game. I love the fact that this town is not so full of itself that it can’t rally around its major junior hockey team. We were surrounded by families, drunks, seniors, kids, and other people all age, and we were all enjoying ourselves. Its nice to see 8000-some-odd people come together for a good time rather drown themselves in their our social apathy. I got to wondering what this city does in the summer time when the hockey season is out. Perhaps I should spend more time down at Wanderer’s Grounds, watching rugby and taking box scores at the baseball diamonds.

One thing I don’t think I can ever get over, however, are mens’ washrooms in stadiums. There’s something weird about the intermission pee break. The buzzer goes, and then one walks down to stand in line to pee in the urinal (if you’re lucky, the stadium is so old it still has a porcelain wall for you to work with). The line-up is long enough that it snakes out of the washroom and toward the beer stand, of all places. One stands in this line in an orderly, patient fashion. Eventually, as time passes, one urinal after another will open up until its your turn, giving you the opportunity to go pee. Quiet as a mouse, and eyes-forward do you stand, peeing. Then you go wash your hands, leave the washroom, and pretend that you never set foot in there in the first place. The stadium men’s washroom is an anonymous meeting place. The people you meet there (by accident of course, while waiting in line for an open urinal or towel dispenser) are not to be spoken to our acknowledged on the outside. No, we’re too civil for that. Peeing is for washrooms only; we don’t dare talk about it in real life. I’m sure I’m breaking several social codes by mentioning all of this to you, who are likely determining how best to shun me in the future as a result.

Finally, if you aren’t listening to Plants and Animals yet, then start soon, before you miss the boat on some amazing key changes. This is hype you should believe.


Written by mitchellirons

April 5, 2008 at 10:33 pm

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