My fifth season as a hockey fan has begun! Chris and I headed down to Staples Center to watch the Kings beat the NJ Devils on October 30th. The energy was fantastic — lots of fans and crew members were wearing Halloween costumes, our seats were great, and we didn’t have any obnoxious people sitting near us. Oh, and did I mention the Kings are leading the entire NHL?
What a change from 2006, when the Kings were dead last in the standings. But that’s not the only change — almost every single player on the team — as well as the coach — is different now. Only two players remain from four years ago: captain Dustin Brown and star Anze Kopitar.
Since I’m new to sports fandom in general, this surprised me. I’ve had no trouble latching on to favorite players. (My best boy, Alexander Frolov, just signed with the NY Rangers over the summer.) I kind of assumed that specific players were what attracted fans most, what drove their loyalty.
Except…I’m still every bit as much a fan of the team now, even though it’s made up of entirely different players. So it’s not the players after all. It’s something I’ve always had a difficult time understanding — the idea of a hometown, and the loyalty it engenders.
I grew up without a hometown. We moved a lot, and I was born in DC, even though I never lived there. I don’t have a childhood home, hometown, or even state. Although I understand nostalgia for such things on an intellectual level, I’ve never experienced it emotionally.
But I’ve been in Los Angeles eleven years now, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. I bought a home here, built a life, grew my (primarily furry) family. I feel things I’ve never felt before about a location: pride, belonging, and even protectiveness. Is this what it means to have a hometown?
There’s a reason the Kings play the Briggs’ “This is L.A.” during games. It does a great job of summing up what I suspect all us fans are feeling:
2 thoughts on “Hockey and Hometowns”
Very well said Jen. As a long-time NY Giants and NY Rangers fan let me add that one other thing I found is that the longer I've been a fan, the more of a fan I became. Whether it's because I understand the game and strategies a bit more than when I started watching or because of the memories of watching games with good friends and family, I'm not sure. It's almost like I'm a fan of being a fan – of being able to relate, sometimes even with complete strangers, of the elations of thrilling win or the agony of a bad game.
I definitely think you've hit on something there, Tom– that sense of community and shared history. The comfort of knowing that when you're at a game, you share at least one thing in common with everyone else attending.
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