Hockey Fans Will Return, Are Not Unique in Their Love of the Game

Hockey Fans Will Return, Are Not Unique in Their Love of the Game

We heard a recurring theme during the NHL lockout. The
league put you, the fan, through this again because they understand their greatest
supporters are diehard hockey lovers, and those people are not going away.

Now that the work stoppage has finally ended, it’s being played
off to the same old tune. Hockey fans are just so passionate and hardcore, they
will pack arenas across the States and Canada the moment the buzzer sounds.

It’s almost as if the media is daring you to boycott.

Hockey fans may be a unique sect in many aspects, but in
this one respect they are not. Lockouts and strikes and bitter, public feuding
over collective bargaining agreements don’t keep fans away for very long in any
sport – and they shouldn’t.

Sure, none of the other major professional sports leagues
have experienced three lengthy work stoppages in less than two decades as the
NHL has. In that respect, maybe it is slightly more impressive people keep
going back.

But don’t we always go back? Did the NBA suffer any
long-lasting harm from playing a lockout-shortened schedule just a season ago? Was
Major league Baseball permanently reduced to rubble when a strike claimed the
World Series in 1994?

Obviously not. There are always fans, whether they are
baseball fans, football fans, basketball fans, or hockey fans.

That’s not to say nobody ever gets turned off by labor
strife. Some fans undoubtedly will demonstrate, whether that’s simply with
their wallets, or by swearing off the NHL altogether. Maybe a handful never
comes around.

For everybody else, the allure of the game is just too
strong – but that part of the equation is not unique to hockey, nor has it ever
been, and the reason is universal. Do you really want to deprive yourself of
something that brings you so much enjoyment?

Why, because employers and employees had a financial
dispute?

That’s business, and when it’s your paycheck at stake, then
you get to decide what is or isn’t worth fighting for. And while it’s a shame
it has to drag on the emotions of the consumer, at the end of the day, how were
fans wronged, truly?

The season was cut in half. That’s it. Hell, you could make
the case they did us a favor there.

Hey, come back, don’t come back – it doesn’t matter to me,
nor is it my place to say. But it doesn’t matter whether or not you come back,
either, because most fans will. Maybe not immediately or all at once – before
long though it will be like nothing ever happened.

Joel Embiid practices fully but doubtful for Friday and Saturday

Joel Embiid practices fully but doubtful for Friday and Saturday

Joel Embiid was a full participant Wednesday during the Sixers' first practice back from the All-Star break, but he's listed as doubtful for their games Friday and Saturday.

The Sixers host the Wizards Friday night (7/CSN) and face the Knicks Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (7:30/CSN).

If Embiid misses both games it would be 13 in a row and 16 of 17.

Still, it's a good sign he was able to practice in full Wednesday.

Ben Simmons, meanwhile, has a CT scan scheduled for Thursday in New York. The appointment should show whether his foot has healed enough for him to take the next step in his rehab.

Simmons did individual work at Wednesday's practice.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Sarah Baicker: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

Sarah Baicker: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

In late December, I was invited to play in a pick-up hockey game with some other members of the local sports media community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was one of only two women there that day. Even now, female ice hockey players aren’t exactly common.

After the game, a reporter I’ve known a while — a guy I like a lot — said to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you skate like a man.” I didn’t take it wrong, of course; he meant it as a compliment. The reporter wanted nothing more than to tell me I’d impressed him.

I thought about this exchange a lot in the days that followed. Had someone told me I played hockey like a boy when I was 15, I would have worn that description like a badge. Hell yeah, 15-year-old Sarah would have thought, I do play like a boy. I’m as tough as a boy. I’m as fierce and competitive as any boy on my team. I would have reveled in it, just as I reveled in a similar label I’d received even earlier in my adolescence: tomboy.

Yeah, I was a tomboy. I hung around with the neighborhood boys, riding bikes between each other’s houses or catching salamanders in the creek that ran through town. I loved sports, and my bedroom walls — papered with newspaper clippings and photos of Flyers players — were a far cry from the pink-tinged rooms that belonged to the girls at school. 

As much as I could, I dressed like a boy too, even once cutting the sleeves off of an oversized T-shirt before I went out to rollerblade with our next-door neighbors. My grandmother, who was visiting at the time, pulled me aside to tell me I really ought to dress more appropriately. I rolled my eyes.

I was a tomboy, and I loved the word and everything it stood for. I felt pride in my tomboyishness, believing that the things I liked — the things boys liked — were clearly better than the things stereotypically left to the girls.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it was a conversation with a 15-year-old that changed my perspective, just a few days after my reporter friend had compared my hockey skills to those of a man. I sat down with Mo’ne Davis, the female Little League pitching phenom, for this very project. I asked her if she identified as a tomboy, and she shrugged. Not really, she said. Maybe other people wanted to define her that way, she suggested, but that wasn’t how she viewed things.

You know that record scratch sound effect they play on TV or in the movies? The one that denotes a sort of “wait … what?!” moment? That’s what happened in my head. Mo’ne Davis, the girl who played on the boys’ team and excelled, didn’t consider herself a tomboy?

Something clicked in my head after that. I’ve long identified as a feminist, and I’ve been a big supporter of girls in sports for as long as I can remember. I coach girls hockey, I’ve spoken at schools and camps about playing and working in sports as a woman. For some reason, though, it took a 15-year-old shrugging her shoulders at the label “tomboy” to take the power out of the word for me. Why does one have to be a tomboy, when one can simply be a girl who kicks ass? How had I never considered this before?

In many ways (and especially in sports) if something is male, it’s considered superior. It goes beyond just the things kids like to do, and it’s all old news. It’s also something I’m ashamed to admit I’ve bought into for practically all of my life. But no longer. How can I help change the narrative if I’m too busy playing along with it?

And if I could do it over, when that reporter approached me after our hockey game to tell me I skated like a man, I would have smiled, shook my head and said: Nah. But I skate like a darn good woman.