Hey “Squaks”…relax a bit ok? Bulls fan vs Blackhawks fan rivalry
I was listening to the Waddle&Silvy show yesterday and they touched on an odd, but very real situation in this town. The growing rivalry between Blackhawks fans and Bulls fans. I wrote a blog last week about how I don’t understand the Cubs and White Sox rivalry. That it makes no sense and that those two franchises in actuality are irrelevant to each other. The Bulls fans vs Blackhawks fans rivalry makes seemingly even less sense, but it’s one that I completely understand.
I am a hockey guy. I think anyone who reads this space regularly knows that. It’s the game I love, the game I played, the game in which I am most emotionally and financially invested. Conversely…I HATE the NBA. Having said those two things, the animosity that exists between Blackhawks fans and Bulls fans can laid at the feet of hockey people. Hockey fans have an inferiority complex towards basketball fans. Basketball gets more coverage on ESPN, it gets more coverage in the papers, and it gets more coverage on local sports talk radio. And just when the Blackhawks fans were ready to be the toast of the town in their year as defending Stanley Cup Champs…Derrick Rose has an MVP season and steals all the headlines. The Blackhawks became somewhat of an after thought, and that rubbed some fans the wrong way. So they began to lash out at Bulls fans and local media members. For a sport that prides itself on great toughness, the fans of hockey in Chicago became hyper-sensitive. And I understand why.
I used to be one of those fans who was bitter about hockey’s place in America’s sports landscape. It ate at me that the sport which I loved the most was probably the 5th or 6th most popular sport in the country. I would get angry when some friends would take jabs at the NHL for being on the Outdoor Life Network. Coming on right after bass fishing and right before rodeo. But then I read a quote from John Buccigross and those feelings of bitterness, jealousy, and resentment melted away forever.
“I don’t care how popular the NHL is. I love hockey and you love it and that’s enough for me. It’s a beautiful, addictive game that is immune to extinction. It’s a way of life in Canada and it’s growing in the United States. It is the most intimate of games because it is the most emotional. The “smallness” of the game is its strength. The humility of most of the players, the bond that is found in every rink in North America and the sheer joy of skating on open, clean ice — that’s what makes hockey special.”-John Buccigross
This quote gave me an epiphany. All at once I realized that a) just because basketball is a more popular sports, doesn’t mean it’s a better sport b) There has never been a better time in history to be a hockey fan. Between NBC, NHL Network, and NBC Sports, you could see as many as four nationally televised games per week in addition to the Blackhawks. The game is filled with compelling stars. I have argued in this space that literally every single team has at least one player who is worth the price of admission. c) If you know where to look online, there is FANTASTIC hockey coverage. And d) I realized that I don’t want local radio people talking hockey. I love the Waddle&Silvy show. I think they are great, but honestly I get annoyed when Jesse Rogers comes on and they try to talk hockey. I appreciate all sports, so while I am glad that people like Waddle&Silvy are open to hockey, and don’t dismiss it, I’d rather just have them stick to what they know because that makes for better radio. I’ll get my hockey fix elsewhere.
I will always be an advocate for hockey because I feel it is the greatest sport. I will patiently give Hockey 101(or even 097) classes to anyone who wants to learn. However, I will no longer argue for the game of hockey. It’s not for everyone. Not everyone sees what we see. People can love it with all their soul, or be a casual fan in the playoffs, or not like it at all. I don’t care. Hockey isn’t for everyone. That’s what makes it special. I feel bad for the people who don’t see what we see, because they are missing out on something truly special. The Bulls and NBA getting more coverage doesn’t make our game less special. So relax, enjoy the game because YOU love it. That really is enough.
PS: For the record, I do LOVE basketball…I just hate the NBA. The Bulls are one of three teams in the league that I actually respect. The others being Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics. They are humble, they play hard, and they play together. It’s why I have no problem celebrating Bulls wins. I am not a real Bulls fan by my own sports standards, but I will drive the #BullsBandWagon 100 MPH right into Lebron’s giant balding head.