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Hockey is larger than life

larger than life

Larger than life by the Backstreet Boys was a top 10 hit in over 14 countries in 1999. It captured the love given to the group by their army of fans and how it propelled the boys to the top of pop music. Hockey captures this same idea and has become a “larger than life” sport.

A self-examination is never done as a kid that puts an emotional investment in question. Your parents typically support your fandom financially. However, there comes a time when you reach a certain age and you contemplate the extent of you as a fan.

The Backstreet Boys were unstoppable from 1999-2002. Their success has kept them with comfortable livelihoods to this day. Although, they have had just one hit in the last 15 years, but have stayed together through 2017. Die hard NHL fans have endured both successful time periods and rebuilds. Their commitment has kept their teams in their hometowns.

Your support benefits you the fan and the players playing the game. Studies indicate those invested in sports have “higher self-esteem and lower depression and stress rates,” (Seattle Times). Everyone’s role is different, but everyone is a part of the team. It’s not “they”, it’s “we.” That makes hockey larger than life.

“Can’t you see, can’t you see” “How your love’s affecting our reality”

larger than life
Photo: The Chronicle Herald


teams in the NHL have been standing organizations in their respective cities for over 50 years. The league has since become a stream that has generated over four billion dollars in revenue annually. Fans are the direct source for this establishment.

TV rights are the the main source of revenue for the four major sports leagues (football, baseball, basketball and hockey). Sports television programming in the United States is over 127 hours with over 107 million viewers. The NHL is currently in year six of a two billion dollar contract with NBC Sports, and in year four of a 5.2 billion dollar contract with Rogers Communications in Canada. These viewers are fans that make their teams and the league economically successful.

Watching sports in stadium or at home ramps up your emotion levels. Daniel Wann explains how our “blood pressure rises during games” and how our “testosterone plummets after a loss,” (Huffington Post). This range of emotions gives us undeniable empowerment and value just like our support does to our players on our team(s). Our fandom gives us a common language with our peers and boosts our overall sense of well-being. Each livelihood within a team’s community being strengthened makes the simple game of hockey much bigger than the sport itself.

“Every time we’re down, you can make it right”

larger than life
Photo: Pinterest

Teams move to cities when economics are not adding up. It takes commitment, dedication and loyalty to keep a team in your city. Hockey clubs struggle on the ice from time to time and it’s up to the fans to stick with them. Some of the most storied franchises have sustained success in their cities due to their loyal fans.

The Detroit Red Wings have struggled early on in their new home (Little Caesars Arena). However, there is little doubt they will overcome this and find success in due time. The organization had a “Dead Wings Era” of futility for 15 years from 1967-1982. “Hockeytown” stuck together and has won four Stanley Cups since 1982. Detroit is home to 11 Stanley Cups over a storied 91 year period and average 20,027 fans a night, which is the third highest attendance figure in the NHL.

The St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres have yet to win a Stanley Cup. However, these three are all in the top 10 in national TV ratings for NBC Sports. Fans in these markets have unwavering hope. It is why these teams have stayed in these cities for 51 (St. Louis) and 47 (D.C. and Buffalo) years. Fans are the life support of their teams, which makes them as a part of the team as anyone.

“That Makes You Larger Than Life”

Hockey brings me to life, and I do my best to give that life back to the game. Avis Favaro reports that “hockey increases heart rates and can cause heart attacks,” (CTV News). That potential risk does not stop avid fans from watching. The benefits from investing in what we cannot control always outweighs the negative.

Over 82 jobs and millions of fans make one NHL organization run on a daily basis in its city. The players playing the game are never the only people involved. There will come a time when one fan will question his/her means to an end within his/her fandom. Always knowing that hockey is larger than life will make the discussion with yourself easier.


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