As much as J and I have enjoyed the half dozen Boston Bruins games we’ve already attended this year, there’s something refreshing about watching a good college hockey team.
When we walked to Boston College for a men’s hockey game against Northeastern last year, I noted some of the differences between college and professional hockey. Boston College doesn’t serve beer at athletic events, so fans don’t come to get drunk. College referees strictly enforce rules against rough-housing, so fans don’t come to watch hockey fights. And although the BC pep band and mascot “Baldwin” are on hand to keep fans entertained, there are no Ice Girls. Fans at a college hockey game, in other words, are actually there to watch the game, which is a refreshing phenomenon in a town where championship-winning professional sports teams attract a lot of “bandwagon” fans who sit chatting or texting on their cell phones, clearly oblivious to the game.
They say there is no “I” in team, and lots of fans are fed up with professional athletes who lobby for higher salaries or pump themselves full of performance-enhancing drugs. Although some college athletes dream of making it to the big leagues, most realize their college degree, not their athletic ability, is their ticket to success. I wouldn’t root for professional teams if I thought all of their members were arrogant assholes; still, there’s something refreshingly sweet (if I dare use that word) about college sports. Before Friday night’s hockey game, all the members of both teams (not just the starters) lined in solemn rows for the national anthem; at the end of each period of play (not just at games’ end), players filed from the bench to fist-bump their goalie before heading to the locker room. At the conclusion of play, each team lined up to shake hands with their opponent: an official hat-tip to sportsmanship. There is no “I” in team, and even if you never make it to the majors, the lessons of teamwork and fair play will take you far in the game called “life.”