Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 10/11/11 at 08:00 PM ET
As reported last weekend, Martin Havlat and Brent Burns have each purchased suites for use by people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to hockey games. Both are continuing traditions they started elsewhere. Havlat donated such a suite in Minnesota, according to the press release, and also in Chicago, according to Twitter. I’m having trouble verifying that last bit, these guys don’t broadcast this stuff. That’s nice. It’s inconvenient for nosy people like me but it is laudable.
Burns established Burnzie’s Battalion, part of Defending the Blue Line, when he was in Minnesota. His suite will be available to members of the Armed Services and their families. Havlat, in conjunction with the Sharks Foundation, will make tickets available through Bay Area organizations for underprivileged families and children with illnesses and their families.
I can imagine some stingy sorts being critical of these charitable acts, arguing that the money would be better spent feeding, housing, or clothing people. I believe a lot of Sharks (and even players on other teams) do that too, so it certainly isn’t an either/or. But in case one persists in the notion that tickets to a game don’t solve anything, I would argue that these nights out for people who don’t get them very often are a very good thing. They feed the spirit in ways that food doesn’t.
When you’re strapped for cash, going out for fun is way down the list of priorities. It probably won’t happen except as a gift. The gift doesn’t only let you watch a spectacle. You also get the energy of the crowd, a contagious optimism and a lot of noise. These things can stay with you long after the event is over. It’s like a mental anti-inflamatory: temporary relief of the pressure can make a huge difference to long-term healing. Add to that some good memories to hang onto in tough times and the value of this gift is hard to calculate.
It’s very easy to get in the swing of things at a Sharks game. The chants are self-explanatory, people don’t throw beer on you for wearing the wrong color, and mostly people are happy to answer questions. The accuracy of the answers isn’t guaranteed, but that isn’t the point. The point is, it’s a friendly place to go and you don’t need a secret handshake or a decoder ring to enjoy the experience. Actually, this has been my experience everywhere I’ve seen a hockey game. I have heard stories about some places where things get a little hairy for outsiders. I can’t speak to that, but at HP, you’re good.
I’ve joked that pro sports are like the Roman arena, amusement for the placation of the masses. They sort of are, but there’s a good reason that worked then and still works today. In our darkest days, sports can give people a thread of hope to cling to, no matter how far removed that sporting event is from our daily lives. The adventures of someone on the ice or the track or the field gives people a moment of respite, forgetfulness, and joy. When the economy turns sour, sports survive. While people let go of things they thought were necessities before, the game goes on. When governments ration raw materials, food, fuel… the game goes on.
It goes on because we need it, we need a distraction that is divorced (at least nominally) from politics, religion, profession and all the other barriers and challenges in our lives. We need a place to go and celebrate, whether the people we celebrate with know our names or not. We might learn the names of the people there with us, find a new place to belong. Or we might just forget everything, for a few hours.
The less you get of that kind of escape, the more you need it. So thanks, guys, for shining a little ray of hope where it is most needed.
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About Petshark: Talking Stick
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org