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KK Members Blog

A sports fan: Choosing a team

08/04/2013 at 8:03am EDT

Continuing my experiment with trying to become a fan of another team, I am partially motivated to choose a team that is different from Detroit. I listed the following qualities for choosing Detroit in my previous post: a rich history, good management and ownership, winning culture, and class. I provided two requirements for my new team previously: first, that it be a team without much recent success, and second, that it be a newer team.

To make it easier on myself, since I normally live in NJ, I decided to choose a team in the east as well. I have decided on the Florida Panthers. They have reached the playoffs only four or five times in their history. They are hampered by a lack of money and have struggled to make the cap floor in much of the salary cap era. Even after a season that they, perhaps luckily, won the division, they dropped back to the basement with the worst point total in the past season.

One thing I noticed right away is the relative lack of in depth coverage on the Panthers, especially compared to the Wings. A fan of a less covered team might have to do more research, especially on prospects, and might have more room to make his own thoughts and judgments on his team.

Something I have started to wonder about is what might bring someone who has no geographical connections to a team to become its fan. The most obvious pull is winning. A team that wins consistently is bound to attract followers. Another pull in most sports is the presence of a star player. I do not think this has the same effect in hockey as it does in some other sports, for numerous reasons. One is that hockey is not as heavily covered as a sport like football in the US, which is partially due to being less popular. Another is that as I mentioned before, a star player cannot dominate the game the way star players can dominate in a game like basketball. But I have never heard a hockey fan say that he was a fan of so and so team because of a certain player.

Another reason to like a team is because of its style of play. But a team that lacks the previous two qualities is not one of the better teams and in the NHL, probably plays a tight defensive style. Again, I do not know any hockey fans that follow a certain team because of its suffocating defensive play. A fan seems much more likely to like a team if it plays a highly risky and offensive style, but the way the NHL has been headed recently, few of those teams exist, and arguably none.

My second step in this experiment will be to become familiar with the team and its history. Since there is some time before the season begins, maybe I can enter the Panthers' fan community and find out any interesting stories about why they are Panthers' fans.

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