There’s been much said about how Covid, and all the issues surrounding the virus, are making things extremely tough on all sports. This is obvious, as we all are more than aware of the banana skins that surround it all. Travel…not really possible. Getting together in an arena…not possible. Going to the pub to enjoy some live sport on TV…not possible. The list goes on and on…
I guess the issue less discussed, and that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately…because I’ve seen lots of social posts in the last few weeks on the subject…the issue of missing sports, but more importantly missing the people we enjoy it with.
I’ve seen many folks lamenting how they miss their ‘hockey friends’ and the sense of community associated with taking in a game in Cardiff or Fife. This is an issue that’s not really measurable…but in my opinion just as disappointing and relevant as the dollars and cents that can be measured in losses to leagues and teams.
You see, in my EIHL travels the last few years for example, I’ve seen first-hand how the game of hockey is a social outlet, and familial experience for many hockey fans across Great Britain. It is their passion every weekend…for many it may be their social life, where like minded and lifelong friends keep each other company, and make each other laugh. When you hear mental health experts talk about the pandemic, they reference people feeling isolated, shut away from friends and family…and the negative toll that takes on all of us. I think a lot of hockey fans are feeling that as I type here.
Hockey in my experience can create joy and passion that cannot be replicated on zoom, or with old repeat games. I mean, these things are good, and certainly we must avail of such tools to keep ourselves going…but the real toll on sports for me – especially around hockey in Great Britain – is the toll of missing the joys and laughter of a night at an arena. Sharing a joint love of the game, or the joint fandom of your team. Sharing that sense of community and belonging…a sense of being a part of something brilliant.
Look at Team GB as another example. Hundreds of GB fans travelled to Budapest and Kosice for some of the best GB moments ever in IIHF history. These members of the ‘barmy army’ spent their hard earned cash on those occasions to be a part of the success of the national team. They used their valuable vacation days…they made GB their vacation – because of that unbridled joy that I speak of…that we all miss.
Where were you when Farmer scored that famous goal against Hungary? Where were you when Davies broke the hearts of French fans? For those that can say “I WAS THERE”, they know what I’m speaking of in this post. Yes, Covid has ravaged team and league finances…it has cost people jobs…devastating stuff, and to all those who are having bad times, I send positive hopes your way. It’s also taken away the laughter and passion of thousands of fans who miss their GB ‘family’ adventures, miss their EIHL friends. This social and mental health toll is tough on so many folks , and shouldn’t be taken for granted. No one affected in either of these ways should be taken for granted.
We all miss the game…it’s been a while since I’ve posted a note like this…but I wanted to let EIHL and GB fans know that they are certainly not alone in missing the games, the people, and ‘being there’. Let us hope that with vaccines, and time, we are all back in an arena soon…sharing some laughs and excitement…and more importantly sharing the experience of the special moments around the game together…be safe, and be kind.