Congrats, Las Vegas! After years of pandering, you finally got what you wanted: Entry into the National Hooker League!
Wait… I’m being told just now that it’s actually the National Hockey League. Hockey.
Well, hockey can be just as exciting. But what does it mean to truly be a fan of your local team? Las Vegas hasn’t ever had a professional team in any major sport, so you Vegas natives are newbies to the barbaric sensationalism that is pro sports fandom.
You haven’t had the opportunity to know what it means to root for the home team on a stage this big. Sure, there’s the heated Major Arena Soccer League rivalry between the Las Vegas Legends and the San Diego Sockers (which is basically hockey for soccer), but that’s chump change compared to the 6th-most popular league in the country.
Takes notes, Las Vegans, and follow these simple guidelines to be on your way to becoming the best fans in the world.
Revel in the fact that no player on your team can do any wrong.
The key here is to acknowledge that everyone on your team is an angel. They’re just misunderstood, a little overzealous, or “don’t know their own strength.” They aren’t like those bloodthirsty pricks on other teams who should be considered enemies of the state.
Boo the referees every time they make a call against your team.
It doesn’t matter if the call is wrong or right, or if he’s already made several bad calls against the other team: you boo every single non-fighting penalty that puts your team shorthanded. Seriously refs, we go to games to watch our team win, not to watch an impartial interpretation of the rulebook. If you want to take it to next-level fandom, you can collectively chant a certain profanity at the refs after a bad call. Might we suggest one that rhymes with “mast pole?”
When your team is on the power play, obnoxiously yell “SHOOOOOT!!!”
It’s clear these guys don’t know what they’re doing and you scored two goals in your beer league game that one time. The players need to be reminded to fire the black disk at the net. I mean, yeah, there might be 5 players in the shooting lane, but dammit, I want to see a goal. When it’s inevitably blocked and fired back down the ice, you need to boo your team for not being better at manipulating the laws of physics.
Develop a weird quirk or “inside joke.”
If there’s one thing hockey fans love, it’s one-upping other teams’ fans. Aside from the obvious recourse of simply being louder to prove your dominance, get creative. It’s all about being better differently, which somehow makes you better. The weirder and harder to explain, the better. Here are some real examples:
- Throwing plastic rats on the ice (Florida)
- Throwing octopi on the ice (Detroit)
- Giving your players nonsensical nicknames (Bruins)
- Claiming that your team is “just in another rebuild” (All of Canada)
- Pretending to like the Islanders (Islanders)
By liking your team, you’re better than all other fans.
Just accept the fact that your fanbase is smarter, cooler, and ethically superior to every other. Make sure to dish out the phrase “stay classy, [insert city]” and to judge entire fanbases by the actions of a single fan.
Get into pointless internet fights.
Fans of other teams will talk smack about your team, city, or uniform colors, so be sure to do the same. Don’t let them win (hint: you win by using more swear words and bringing up an instance from 37 years ago where their team did the same thing). You Vegas fans specifically should be worried about all the “Evander Kane to Las Vegas E5” jokes.
Constantly offer your unsolicited managing and coaching advice.
Let’s face it: you’re smarter than your current general manager and head coach, which isn’t saying much since they clearly got their jobs as a prize from winning a raffle. It’s so obvious as to what they need to do: Trade this player, bench that player, and definitely don’t do that thing three years ago even though you thought it was a great idea at the time. Don’t be shy – let them hear about it. Call the radio, send in letters, yell obscenities at the arena. The louder you are (or the more UPPERCASE LETTERS YOU USE), the more correct you are.
Diversify your fanbase.
What makes fans great is that each person thinks he or she's right and that his or her method of cheering is most correct. It’s this diversity that really adds to the character of hockey fans. You need to get together as a fanbase and delegate roles. You can choose from:
- The Unabashed Homer (aka “Fan”): Spends all day on message boards talking about how much your team sucks, how there’s a fix in against his team, and how every team except his has a player who should be institutionalized.
- The Babbling Buffoon: Screams at the players, gets into fights with opposing fans, and has a blood alcohol concentration of 28%.
- The Optimist: Tells fans to “cheer up” and “look at the positives” after losing their 82nd game of the season.
- The Pessimist: Thinks everything the team does is stupid, still argues after they won the Cup that the coach should have been fired.
- Puck Bunny: Sexually amorous fan that cheers for the players because they’re cute and thinks a “face off” is when players pose for pictures during intermission.
- Marginalized Female Fan: Normal fan who gets confused with a puck bunny even though she knows that keeping a third man high will help eliminate odd-man rushes and could literally outskate you.
- The Snob: Knows more than you do about everything, with advanced stats to back it up that are probably made up.
- The Hipster: Totally called that the unknown winger from Siberia was going to be the next superstar, and definitely knew that trading away that one prospect would haunt the team for years (note: only announces these claims after the fact).
- The Purist: Defends the old ways until the day he dies. “Fighting ability is more important than skill, slashes to the back of the head are OK in most circumstances, and those damn foreigners need to show some respect.”
Anytime Gary Bettman is in the arena, you boo him relentlessly.
Why are you reading this? Start practicing your booing!
Scott Finger is a hockey writer based in Massachusetts. You should follow him on Twitter.