Friday, March 19, 2004
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Clayton News Daily
Most sporting events tend to bore me unless I'm on assignment with my camera. I find it's more of a challenge just sitting through a game as a spectator, waiting for the right time to crawl over people in my aisle just to get to the bathroom. That was until last Friday night at Phillips Arena when I went with a group of friends to a Thrashers hockey game. When the lights went down and some bird head fixture hanging from the roof opened its mouth and transformed into a flame thrower, I knew I had arrived.
Hockey is pure action, no " 1st downs" or "punt returns," just teams hitting the black puck, and each other, with a big stick. What could be more hardcore than an all-out brawl on ice skates with people slamming into the glass every other second? At one point a Thrasher lost his helmet after a collision in overtime and kept on going (and don't tell me a cold sheet of ice is a more inviting surface to crash on than that Astroturf playground on your little football fields!). I have no idea if playing without a helmet is legal but the refs did not stop the game. Now that's more hardcore than rock star "Andrew W. K."! I do realize there are rules to the game and I read on the NHL web site that Toronto Canuks' player Todd Bertuzzi got suspended this week for deliberately harming an opponent but the game still feels rough enough even when the players accept the boundaries.
In hockey a team gets one point per goal which is as it should be. All these other sports are getting 2 and 6 points per score and I don't know what else. Who came up with the scoring system for basketball and football anyway? I don't see any advantage to getting two points per goal over one point as long as you beat the other team with more points and win the game.
From watching hockey I can also understand why soccer is so popular around the world. It's the fact that in both sports scoring a goal is hard to come by. When it does happen it's an awesome moment for the team and the spectators. That's because there has been intense anticipation just to see one goal in the first period. It's not like basketball where if you blink your eyes you could miss yet another slam dunk (soooo boooooooring)!
Last but not least I have to give respect to the hockey fans I witnessed at Phillips Arena who were aggressively engaged with the action in the rink. They knew not one ounce of restraint as they pounded their fists on the ringside glass, booed refs' decisions with conviction, and hurled beverages onto the ice that they no doubt paid a high price to purchase. Anyone who would throw a full 20-oz. bottle of coke at the opposing team to show their love for the Thrashers maybe crazy but they are definitely a diehard hockey fan.
Zach Porter is a photographer with the News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org