I’m doing a “trial fandom” of the Nashville Predators, to see if I can actually root for a team for longer than a season or two. Below are my initial observations from the last few weeks of fanning the Preds.
1) For some background, I live in/near/around/[insert preposition of choice] Nashville, TN. Land of sweet tea, hot chicken, and… hockey, of all things. The love of the Nashville Predators, through thick and thin, always seemed to me like a marriage of necessity. The Titans are terrible – and yes, Mike Jones is still reviled here – and Vanderbilt is laughable at every non-bat-related sport. The local Belmont Bruins field a pretty good basketball team most years, primed to ruin bracket after bracket. Middle Tennessee State University, southeast of Nashville in nearby Murfreesboro, is sometimes a pleasant surprise in both basketball and football. So with very few options, the denizens of the town naturally came to embrace the Way of the Fang Fingers.
At least, that may be how it started – but it has grown to be so much more now.
For the past few years, I’ve noticed an increased fervor surrounding the team. Even last season, when they were slightly-below-fair-to-middlin’, folks still held them in high regard. The city is definitely all-in, and this season’s league-leading point total isn’t hurting matters much either. So what better time to try and be a fan of a local team than now, when they’re doing really really good? There’s a term for that… I can’t seem to place it though.
2) As Casey can tell you, I am EXTREMELY fickle about my sports team rooting. I’m a Buckeyes fan for life, which will never change – I’m that annoying douchebag that yells “O-H!” when he sees someone else rocking the Scarlet and Gray – but besides that, I’ve been a fan of the following teams/athletes in the past, none of whom I actively root for:
– Boston Red Sox
– Brooklyn Nets
– Carolina Panthers
– Chicago Bulls
– Cleveland Browns
– Dallas Cowboys
– Detroit Tigers
– Houston Astros
– Norwich City F.C.
– Swansea City A.F.C.
– Texas Rangers
– Washington Nationals
– Brad Keselowski, race car driver
– Bubba Watson, golfer
– Jason Belmonte, bowler
– Lyoto Machida, MMA fighter
This is very bad! And it’s time to put it to an end. So besides OSU, there will only be rooting for local teams going forward. It’s much easier to keep up with the team, and it’s MUCH easier to see them live too. I’ve already gone to a couple of Preds games this year, and will certainly attend a few more before the season is up.
3) I’m starting to understand the rules more and more, but it’s still a struggle. Case in point: offsides. I know what it is, but I can’t tell when it happens. I see the guys bringing the puck up-ice (is “up-ice” even the correct vernacular here?), and then the whistle blows and there’s a face-off, and every time it takes me a second to really ascertain what just happened. “Oh, offsides. Got it.”
4) However, the one thing that is way less difficult than I thought it would be is learning all the players. Unlike most other sports, there are no 2nd-4th stringers that never see the light of day. The least visible Predator non-goalie, Rich Clune, is still on-ice for an average of 5:30 every game – or nearly 10% of the time. Which basically means learning the full roster, a seemingly daunting task. But I was able to start picking up who was who just based on jersey # during my last live game, much to my surprise. I’d imagine I would mostly have it down in a few games. The backup goalies will take some time to learn, since they hardly ever see the light of day, but I’m okay with not knowing who they are.
5) I don’t know if the lines will ever make sense to me. They seem kinda-sorta akin to batting order, but I see good players on the lower lines, and not-so-great ones (at least by my estimation) on higher lines. I’m sure there is strategy to it, so I’m not doubting the process; I just know that it may be a question mark to me for a good long while.
So yeah, I’m gonna keep at it. I’m sure I’ll have more random musings as the season wraps up, and hopefully I’ll stick this one out. If not, there’s always Brooklyn again. Ugh.