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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Being a Hockey Fan by Guest Blogger @brumistheshow

Hi, my name is Justin, but everyone calls me Brum. I have a confession to make, while I have always "liked" the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL, I can't say that I've always been a "fan".

(Now, now, put down the pitchforks, and please don't hit that unfollow button just yet.)

I say this in jest, but a lot of people in the pens nation tend to look down at those who they deem to be "bandwagon fans" This is a label I've never really understood, but through writing this, maybe I can start to better understand.

I grew up in an area that wasn't big on hockey, there were a few roller hockey leagues, but as far as ice hockey, it just wasn't a big deal in this part of the state, and to be honest, even if it was, I was too wrapped up in football and basketball to take notice to it. My highschool years consisted mostly of school, practice, and homework. Drizzle in the occasional video game, hanging out with friends, and Steeler and Chicago Bulls games. Hockey never had a chance to sneak in to my life. It's not to say I never watched it, I remember watching a few games here and there, but it was never a big part of my life.

After high school, hockey and I never really had a chance to hook up. A few months after graduation I shipped off to basic training at Fort Knox after that, Ft Sill, Babenhausen, Germany, and a Fun (not) stop in the wonderful country of Iraq. Again between training, 9/11, deployments, and drinking till I blacked out, hockey and I just never crossed.

In February of 2005, I bid adieu to the ARMY and became a civilian. I went to live with my mother for awhile until I got my shit straight, while I was gone my mother had befriended a woman by the name of Paula, Paula was 5'5" maybe 120 pounds, but I would put her in the ranks of the biggest Hockey fans on the face of this earth.

Paula lived with us, during hockey season, if a game was on, she was watching, and naturally I would watch. I watched, and watched, began to become familiar with the players. I can't remember when it clicked, but when it did, it was magical.

As I grew into adulthood, the NBA had clashed with the hip hop culture, MJ left, came back, left, came back again, and ultimately became a joke of an executive. The game lost it's ability to hold me. Football until recently was solid, but for the most part, it was only a weekend thing. Hockey embodied many of the things I liked, the speed, the skill, the carnage, it all kept me watching. Soon, I was hooked, I had become a hockey fan.

In 2008 I was pissed when we lost to the Redwings and 2009 I shed a tear when we got our revenge. I was in heaven, my team was doing well. Then I started tampering with a little thing called Twitter, and I'll be honest, being a hockey fan took on a whole new meaning. I was talking with people whom I had never met, about a subject I felt deeply about. I started following more and more people that had more and more perspectives. I started following blogs. The Pensblog, chicks who dig hockey, and Highheels and hockey were a few of my many sites I read. My fandom had been taken to a whole new level, and I loved it.

Then it started, I suppose it was always there, I just cast it off, but as I saw it more, it really began to piss me off. The so-called "real fans" or as I have called them, "hipster fans". We all know at least 1 or 20, some are harmless, throwing the occasional jab, but there is a minority of them who are just outright mean, and why? So what someone doesn't know how many combined goals the 3rd line wingers had in 91. I couldn't tell you who they were, if I want to know, I'll google it, but not knowing doesn't make me any less of a fan.

Another sect of fans that often draw my ire are the "holier than thou art, and if thou doth not agree with me I shall spite you" in typing that our, it seems an awfully long name, but the point remains. These are the type of people that put their opinions out, often in the form of a blog, or column, and heaven forbid you disagree, because hey, they've been fans since the womb, and obviously they know better than you.

It's often these kind of people that cause people to shut down, or not get as involved in this great Internet community, and that is a sad thing, because there is a lot of fun to be had, and awesome people to talk to.

The bottom line is this, don't think you have to be an almanac of knowledge to be a fan, nor do you have to have followed the team since you were a child. A fan is someone who enjoys something, if you enjoy watching Sid make an amazing pass to old what's his name with the bushy eyebrows, you're a fan, if you believe that Kris Letang is an overpaid bum, you're free to have that opinion (just be careful who you give it to) I kid I kid. Hockey is a glorious game, with much to offer, and the more people that enjoy it the better.

My name is Justin Brumbaugh, I've been a hockey fan since 2005...

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