Saturday, January 23, 2010
The sports fan
My former roommate looks at me and very eloquently states, "eh?"
I can completely understand her surprise, being as how when we lived together, I never even once, expressed the remotest interest in any sport. She herself, being a self-proclaimed sports nut, had a strong preference for soccer but would watch pretty much anything. I have fond memories of us sitting on the couch in her living-room, both of us with our laptops, while she focused on the game shown on TV, alternately commenting on the game to me and commenting via skype to her friends abroad. The only other time I'd watched a sports game was in high school and even then I was more there for the socializing than the game itself. Knowing that our school's football team pretty much sucked and that none of my friends there knew about or even cared for the rules, helped in not paying attention to what was going on. I figured that I'd get all that I needed to get out of the game just from her reaction and that was already enough. She couldn't stop laughing at that but decided to spare me a lecture on how the interesting thing was to actually watch the thing as it developed. Even now, when we're meeting, it's not in a sports bar but an average coffee place. So her surprise at my latest request is perfectly understandable.
I repeat my request if only to see the look on her face again. "Could you give me a crash course in ice hockey?"
She starts grinning at me and it's pretty much the same grin she sported when I got all excited about a picture I found of someone I'd been crushing on when we were living together last year. The internet can be a blessing that way, though I can still hear the word "stalker" coming out from somewhere underneath the mock-cough that followed my "discovery". It still makes me laugh, today.
Mercifully she spares me a speech this time though her eyebrows do shoot up. Especially, when I add that I need a crash course for dummies.
Last year my best friend really wanted to see the ice hockey game, when Finland played Russia. I don't remember when it was, some time during the spring, though we were still (for the most part) wearing our winter jackets, that's how little I know about the whole thing. I was rooting for her country as well but since I didn't know the rules, it was hard for me to follow. We ended up at another friend's place of work, a bar that usually doesn't show ice hockey but for this, they were making an exception. A very big exception since the whole thing resulted in a lock-in, with about six people remaining. They tried to explain the game to me, my best friend, with one eye on me and the other one on the screen, turning to our other friend for help. Each time they gasped, I looked at my friend and asked her if what had just happened was good or bad. I tell my roommate all that, adding that I didn't want a repeat of that, this year, I wanted to actively participate.
"Isn't there a big ice hockey event coming up in February?" I ask before adding, "I want to be prepared."
I know this, because the Monday after Christmas, coming home from a concert, a random drunk guy stopped me on the street and told me about it.
To her credit, I have to state that she is trying to hide her grin. But I know her, so I can see it dancing around the edges of her mouth and in her eyes.
"The big ice hockey event . . . ," she begins and - again I have to give her credit for that - her voice is perfectly even. "the winter olympics in Vancouver. The Finnish team is expected to fight for gold in that competition."
I nod, glad that I don't even have to pretend that I knew this already and that we already established when I was living with her that when it came to sports, I was basically an idiot. I can follow a tennis match and I played floor hockey once in my life and really enjoyed it but other than never playing by the rules to begin with, team sports were never something I'd followed actively, never mind passionately. When pressed, I'd pick the teams of the places I liked. I love everything about Finland (and my own country doesn't even have a team) so with ice hockey, Finland it is.
"Ice hockey games start on February 17," she says. "That means, you have at least three more weeks to learn more about ice hockey."
I nod again. Three weeks isn't that bad and the "more" in her comment, sounds encouraging. At least I didn't decide this three minutes into the game.
"I'll send you a link with the rules and some general knowledge," she says as she needs to go in a short while.
I thank her and promptly ask her about the two city teams, Jokerit and HIFK.
"They play in the SM league," she explains. "That's the highest level of ice hockey played in Finland. Listen, would you be willing to come see a game with us next weekend in Tapiola even if it doesn't involve Jokerit and HIFK?"
I nearly start jumping up and down at this. It's hard for me to plan anything that far in advance so we arrange to confirm this next Friday. And I'm really looking forward to the following weekend, confident that by the time the winter olympics roll around, I'll have a pretty good idea of what's going on and will really be able to get into the games when I watch them with my friends.
Until the thought hits me that all games take place in Vancouver and with the time difference, active participation is pretty much a moot point since I won't be watching the game with anyone anyway.