Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sports on fun (not steroids)

Remember when sports was fun and the fans had a true connection with a team and its players?
Jeff Klein of the New York Time' wonderful SlapShot blog alerted me to this video with his post:
Below, an amazing document of communion between hockey fans and players. It was recorded last Friday night in Martin, Slovakia, when perennial minnows MHC Martin beat HC Kosice in the Slovakian Extraliga and reached second place at the start of the two-week December break. After the game highlights, watch the unbelievable send-off the 4,000 fans at the Martin Winter Stadium give their players, and how much fun the players have giving back the love. It may be seven of the most amazing minutes of hockey footage you’ve ever seen.

1 comment:

Phil Murphy said...

One can't help but smile when watching that video clip. That degree of connection between a team and its supporters has become almost non-existent in mainstream American sports.

It did not surprise me, after watching the video, that this team is from Eastern Europe. The relationship between fans and athletes is far different overseas than it is domestically.

Fans across the world are overtly invested-- sometimes obsessed-- with the lives and performance of their sports heroes. As much as we feel the media intrudes into the personal lives of athletes here, intimate knowledge of and contact with an athlete pales in comparison with that of our neighbors across the pond.

This familiarity gap seems to growing yearly. My two most cherished sports memories both are from personal contact with my athletic heroes: a ball-signing turned outfield discussion with former Cardinal RP Lee Smith, and a glove-absconding turned midfield chat with former-Jet KR Chad Morton.

For me, it is rare to see athletes invest any field time interacting personally with fans, being perceived instead as time not spent in game preparation.

And God forbid an athlete interact with his supporters during a game, as he must be unequivocally drawing attention to himself over his team.

For example, Lasting Milledge getting ostracized during a Mets' broadcast and in the Daily News the following day after high-fiving the right field fans the inning after hitting his first major league home run.

The line is admittedly blurred between showboating and showing appreciation. However, that does not justify the erasure of any and all athlete-to-fan interaction that allows an avid supporter to feel some personal connection with their heroes.

Now, the only means by which a fan can feel equal to their heroes is to find kryptonite in the form of a 409-page manuscript and watch their Supermen crash helplessly to the earth.

This cry goes out the media and league officials to allow a connection between sports enthusiasts and particpants, so as to unite the two by elevating the common man upward rather than tearing the admired one down.