People swear I’m part Canadian. I took six years of French and I love hockey. I thank Disney for that one. I don’t know what I thought was so inexplicably cool about The Mighty Ducks. Maybe it was the Flying V—an impressive feat on screen, but maybe not the most practical hockey play. Maybe it was the coolness of Emilio Estevez. I don’t know. Whatever the source, I’ve been hooked for 17 years, hockey pun intended.
A bit of background for those of you that aren’t hockey fans. The Mighty Ducks movie came out in October, 1992. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hit the ice as an expansion team owned by Disney in October, 1993. The Minnesota North Stars moved to Texas to become the Dallas Stars the same season. Now imagine a 9 year old kid who lives in West Texas hours from the nearest ice rink. Logically, which team would he pick to like? Would he pick a team that he had heard of or one that was from a city several hours away. Yup. I’m a Ducks fan.
I had several Mighty Ducks shirts as a kid. I loved all three Mighty Ducks movies. A even had my own duck call. Of course, being a kid from a part of the United States not traditionally called hockey country, the opportunities to actually see hockey on TV were few and far between. It wasn’t until high school that I was able to see my first hockey game. By some mishap of hockey organization briefly known as the WPHL, Abilene was host to an actual professional hockey team for 3 seasons (1998-2001). I didn’t get to go to many games, but I loved the few that I was lucky enough to be at.
During my 4 years in Austin, I took the opportunity to go to a few Ice Bats/Longhorns back-to-back games. The Ice Bats were never very good, but it was still fun too watch. I also had a Canadian friend who shared my affinity for hockey. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to learn to play hockey during my years at The University. I guess that happens if you don’t have a job during college.
Once I moved to San Antonio and had a stable job, I quickly signed up for learn to skate lessons. Had any of you been there, it would have been a fairly entertaining sight to behold. Many people were surprised that I would take on such a task. I’m sure most believe my chances of actually learning to play hockey were pretty slim. I proved them wrong. Assuming “they” exist. In January, 2008 I started in the Instructional Hockey League—a fancy name for a weekly learn to play class. After three months, I was talked into signing up for the rec league. Retrospectively, I’m not sure I was really ready for that, but I have been playing on the Men O’ War ever since. Yes, I’m on the military team. It’s comical, I know.
Along with my access to an actual ice rink came my first apartment wired for digital cable. You better believe I got the NHL Center Ice package that fall. During the 2008-2009 season, I saw 4 Ducks games live (3 in Anaheim, 1 in Dallas) and watched 74 on TV. It was nice to watch the Ducks play an entire season and not just during the playoffs on NBC. Though, I did at least see them win the 2007 Stanley Cup.
You may ask “what does this have to do with story?” Other than being evidence of my ADHD, hockey is an example of the story one sees in sports. I’ll say this. I’m not one of those guys that is a sports fan and will watch anything involving competition. I enjoy high school football and UT football. Most of the time, I don’t just watch hockey. There are exceptions exceptions for things like the Stanley Cup playoffs, the All Star game and the Winter Classic. Most of the time, I watch Ducks hockey. Even sports have a story. Throughout a season with the Ducks, I see triumph and loss. I see players come and go. I have favorite players. I have teams that I like less than others. Each win is one step closer to the playoffs. I care about the outcome of the team. I spend money on merchandise. I spend 6-12 hours a week watching games. I invest myself in their story.
Okay, a more timely example for those of you that aren’t hockey fans: The Olympics. The Olympics are a global event that is a story that everyone can be a part of. NBC does a great job of tapping into the human nature of story. Michael Phelps was the big story during the Beijing games in 2008. This year NBC has built up several stories. The American characters that they have us connecting with are gold medalists such as Shaun White, Hannah Kearney and Lindsey Vonn and silver medalist Apolo Ohno. We even started with the big story of Canada never having earned a gold medal on home turf. The Olympics provide a story that’s accessible to so many. There’s an event for everyone. We’re united under one cause: victory for the USA.