Vernon. The place I have called my home since 1999. I moved here from Abbotsford when I was seven years old, and quite frankly, I am glad to be away from my birthplace which has since become British Columbia’s Dumpster.
Nah, I joke I joke, I kid I kid.
I cannot diss Abbotsford for it had a proper Chester Fried Chicken. When my family and I originally moved to Vernon, we tried the Chester Fried Chicken from a nearby gas station.
But it just didn’t have quite the same spicy mojo Abbotsford had.
Okay. Enough about Chester Fried Chicken. It’s time to cover a topic which bears some sort of significance here in Vernon.
VERNON IS A DUMB STUPID TOWN BUT IS GREAT – PART 1: ICE HOCKEY OBSESSION
Yes, I know what you are saying. “Ice hockey is an identity which belongs to all of Canada”.
I agree. But guess what? If you live east of British Columbia, you have absolutely no other sport to choose to play for ten months of the year.
Ice hockey is essentially popular by default in the other 95% of Canada.
It’s like voting for a leader in a totalitarian state. I mean, you do have the option of voting for the dictator’s opponent, but we all know the outcome will result in the leader being elected with 99.3% of the votes.
So why the heck does Vernon care so much about ice hockey? We have a great baseball, Mixed Martial Arts, football, and soccer community. Hell, our arts community is pretty damn good too.
But ice hockey? Why?
As an adult, one’s obsession with sports in general has become intriguing to me.
While growing up, I could not grasp what made kids go so apes–t about ice hockey.
He shoots; he scores. Isn’t that there all is to it?
Well, other than some bald-headed guy with a goatee who tries waaaay too hard trying to be the next Canadian badass, and attempts to be a jerk towards people. Who are you trying to impress, douchebag?
What type of person models their appearance after the f–king colonel?
Not to mention he tries to match Dan Gheesling decibel for decibel. What a joke.
During elementary and high school, I knew a few kids my age who were really quiet. For some reason, you bring up ice hockey and they finally have something to say. It is practically a religion to them.
Speaking of religion, I have noticed there is a correlation between religious communities locally and those who are big ice hockey fans. I think religious people in general tend to gravitate towards sports because it is one of the few things in our culture which does not possess any interactions or conflicts with personal beliefs.
Yeah, looking at you Tebow.
But hey, this ain’t a religious blog. Back to the subject at hand. It’s not just quiet kids who had a passion for ice hockey, it would also be calm kids too. Yet if you start dissing their beloved sport, that would be one of the rare times you would see emotions encompassing anger from them.
You’re a calm and quiet person, aren’t you? Don’t you just want to reach through the computer screen and punch me in the face right now? C’mon. Don’t deny it.
If that is the case, you really do fit in with the sport. Isn’t the NHL’s reputation known for white guys picking fights with other white guys for no reason whatsoever?
Which is one of the reasons why I never really viewed ice hockey as a true sport. Is it a competition or an amateur version of pro wrestling? That’s all we f–king hear about in the highlights. We either see someone scoring a goal or the commentators describe a fight by punch-for-punch thrown.
This is why it baffles me MMA is banned locally rather than ice hockey. MMA is all about the art of the warrior and is facilitated by a series of rules.
Ice hockey is just about scoring goals on ice. Fighting has nothing to do with what the sport is about, but yet everyone turns a blind eye to it.
Probably because if ice hockey gets cut down at the knees, we have to find a different sport to fund and develop. I am not sure if you have followed international sporting coverage as of late, but FIFA, the World Baseball Classic, and international basketball competitions do not take Canadian teams seriously as contenders.
It is time to dive into this obsession at a more concrete level locally. A couple years ago I saw a letter to the editor where the author expressed their disappointment that fans were refusing to go to Vipers games. The community was viewed as being un-supportive of their local talent and we should be ashamed.
This is a fascinating bit of sporting psychology. People are legitimately upset when others do not support a team financially and go see their games strictly because of geographic proximities.
When it comes to the NFL in Vernon, it seems like every guy with a beer belly is allowed to root for whatever the hell team they want. One of my brother’s friends roots for the Tennessee Titans.
My reaction is the following:
a) Who the hell are the Tennessee Titans? Did his friend just make up a team?
b) How the heck does somebody -become- a fan of the Tennessee Titans? What do the Titans have that neither the Seahawks, Patriots, 49ers, Bills, Cowboys, Dolphins, or the Saints are able to cover? What is unique to the Titan franchise?
Personally the only titans I get excited about is the Attack on Titans. What a great but messed up anime.
Although calling an anime ‘messed up’ is a redundant statement.
The same freedom of choice allowed for picking NFL loyalties does not apply quite as much to the NHL.
Because Vernon is the halfway point between Vancouver and Alberta, we have two major factions (three if you count those Blackhawks hipsters).
1) The Canucks fans. Unless you are a hipster who follows the Whitecaps, this is the only major provincial team we’ve got. From the hippies in Dawson Creek to the miserable people in rained out Prince Rupert to the loveable fools in Surrey, they and Dre are putting it down for British Co-lumb-I-A.
2) Oilers vs. Flames. Are you on the blue side or the red side? This is like Alberta’s version of Grand Theft Auto with the Triads versus the Italians. Because rich Albertans love to retire here when they are older, or move here the minute they have a crapload of money to re-locate to a better area, Vernon is one of the top places for them to move into and call their new home.
So naturally, we have a bunch of rich Albertan offspring plaguing our very town! When they cross the border, they do not check their pointless and irrelevant rivalries at the door.
We have to hear rich Albertans fight with other rich Albertans over whether the Flames will kick the s–t out of the Oilers or whether the Oilers can do something for once.
And if one of these teams faces the Canucks, it’s suddenly on like a craptacular version of Donkey Kong. Why does everyone care???????
It would be like if everyone was invested in what happened in a competition of E.T. for the Atari 2600. Why would anyone care about who gets the high score in that?
Okay, here’s another great piece of local ice hockey obsession for you:
My teacher during the fourth grade, who was a lady in her 70s or 80s at the time, allowed a couple of students to create a chart in the classroom detailing the entire postseason bracket for the NHL playoffs. Every day they would update the scores and who is up by ‘x’ number of games in any given series.
I can guarantee you that if I presented a chart of updating who was in the Pokemon League and in the Elite Four, or breaking down who was voted out of Survivor and on what tribe, I would be laughed at because that information would be viewed as irrelevant.
But here I am in the fourth grade with the f–king NHL being the only entity worthy of any recognition.
And why is ice hockey so dang popular when it is arguably one of the most expensive sports to enrol in? My parents only allowed my siblings and I to choose between soccer, baseball, or basketball. Ice hockey was out of bounds for us growing up. We may as well propose the idea of taking an interest in polo.
Here’s another crazy bit of local ice hockey obsession: It is the only sport I know of where amateur players get featured in the newspaper on the regular basis. During the winter for several years, I can recall individual players of the Vipers getting their own short biographies as if it were trading cards.
That’s great et al, but any local amateur athlete in any other sport did not receive the same distinction. Also, if you are not a male who is playing ice hockey, consider kissing any level of recognition goodbye.
Hell, we are home to Canada’s Smartest Person. All he received was a short article in the newspaper. A defenseman for the Vipers received more recognition than somebody who is smarter than all thirty million people who live in the country.
Nobody gives a flying feces about people who actually do something, but man, if you receive a used piece of gum from Todd Bertuzzi during a preseason training camp, you’re a star.
Oh yeah. The training camp. During the 7th grade, the Canucks trained right here in Vernon. Our 7th grade teacher was experiencing a period of boredom and a lack of enthusiasm for his work, thus he took us to a Canucks training camp for a couple hours.
It was more boring than the classroom because it was some sort of split squad game, which means the good players do not do anything fun while the bad players are trying their best to impress an empty crowd.
Well, that’s not entirely true, I guess. I did see two scouts sitting in the bleachers close to the rink. One of them was yawning frequently.
A few minutes later, I saw them walk out and disappear out of the building. Their whereabouts were confirmed when our class was led back to the bus, and both scouts were seen smoking pot behind the Multiplex.
Anything to prevent them from pondering the question of “where did it all go wrong in my life?” and end up in an endless road of chronic depression.
Regardless of all of this, we do have one saving grace–we have managed to to avoid being declared Kraft’s Hockeyville.
Thankfully, Kraft focused on our neighbours to the north, Armstrong, and granted them a stop in TSN (The Sports Network) and Kraft’s Celebration Tour. Nothing makes me happier than to know Armstrong was invaded by the makers of vomit-inducing Mac n’ Cheese.
You thought the stupidity was over? Not yet.
When I was in high school during the 12th grade, my friends were performing their musical. During one of the transitions, somebody called out “Canada won the gold medal game 3-2!” and everyone cheered. It was like all of the parents there were checking the glows of their smart phones for ice hockey updates rather than paying attention to their own child’s musical.
Maybe if I was acting in the musical, they wouldn’t have a reason to lower their own moral standards.
The only musical to have lower moral standards than the NHL is High School Musical. Just sayin’.
Oh, and traffic was dead in my town at around noon the day after another gold medal hockey last year. This was due to the fact that the gold medal match was in Sochi, and everybody decided to stay up until 3:30am for the start of the match, and did not get a chance to head back to bed until sometime after sunrise when the game was over.
All of the businesses in town were better off not calling any workers in to help until the early afternoon when the town would finally wake up.
At this point you are probably thinking “you are just a kid who is jealous you didn’t have the chance to play ice hockey while all of your cool friends did”.
Well, that’s not true. I have had the chance to play ice hockey plenty of times. I am not like Roger Ebert where I say video games cannot be art despite the fact that Roger never picked up a controller and actually, you know, -played- a game for himself.
So here we go. Evidence that I have directly interacted with the sport.
For starters, I am pretty dope at NHL ’94 at the Sega Genesis. I can kick your ass on the ice. No, seriously. I can.
That applies to NHL ’95 for the SNES as well. Sure, I am not quite as experienced with that game and sold it seven years ago to Ebenezer’s prior to graduation, but I played half a season on that. Go on. Challenge me.
However, I will concede that if you wish to challenge me to Brett Hull Hockey, you will beat me every time. Mainly because that game has some of the worst gameplay mechanics of any sports game produced by somebody other than Electronic Arts. Furthermore, I have zero desire to do well at it because that means it will appear as if I play it on a regular basis.
So yeah, go ahead and win all of Stanley’s Cups with that game. It’s yours.
Wait, you are saying it is just Stanley Cup? The cup’s title is not possessive?
It reminds me how one of my friends who loves the Flames would never shut up about Jaroo McGinla. Years later I saw the player’s name in a trending Facebook feed, and saw there was a player named Jarome Iginla who was retiring from the NHL.
I stared at the name for a few seconds, and finally pieced together my mistake. A mistake which I am completely content with making.
This is similar to the mistake I made with popular rap star Jaroo LeCginla. What was I thinking?
A non-video game example of my NHL greatness is the fact I competed against my three male siblings in a fantasy NHL pool. These three siblings of mine are sports junkies to varying degrees, and the only sport they have in common is watching ice hockey.
I only watched ten minutes of the entire NHL season, and that was because I was at my brother-in-law’s house for his birthday. It won by popular vote.
Anyways, I was in 3rd or 4th for most of the season until the final week. At the start of the final week, I was in 2nd. It didn’t matter because I didn’t care about winning this dumb stupid fantasy pool.
But on the final day, God proved his existence is true as he let me win on the very last day of the season.
It was glorious.
You thought we were done? Nah, not quite.
A month ago I went to The Match because they are the only place in town to show UFC PPVs without a cover charge. The PPV did not exactly have any big names fighting on the card, and expected for The Match to be not quite as packed as usual.
Well, I was wrong. It was nearly full. All to see Mighty Mouse fight Horiguchi? I love Mighty Mouse more than ninety percent of MMA fans, but I know full well he does not produce much of a local turnout.
During the undercard, people in the restaurant would start screaming even when nothing was going on in the match. Others would boo. Later on the polarization of emotions being expressed became so extreme that one couple was ready to jump onto the bar and started thrusting their pelvises into a waitress’ face.
Yeah, it escalated quickly.
Well, it turns out there was a Canucks-Flames playoff game going on at the time. I would say only myself and seven other people in the restaurant were there for UFC purposes. The intelligent truly are few and far between.
And that’s a fitting way to end this piece. You now have a good idea of how obsessive this town is over ice hockey. I told you this is a dumb stupid town, but our dumb stupidness is great, and that’s what I love about Vernon.
P.S. My father and I went to a reading at the Kelowna Regional Library. Usually parking is very easy to find. There was one occasion where we spent over twenty minutes trying to snag a parking spot. When we returned home, we found out our parking troubles was due to an amateur ice hockey game taking place just a few blocks away.
In other words, Kelowna is guilty of this same s–t too.
P.P.S. Yeah, I intentionally said ‘ice hockey’ instead of ‘hockey’. Didn’t that bother you?
P.P.P.S. I may not have been entirely truthful about female athletes in ice hockey not receiving any recognition for their efforts.
3.5 million Canadians witnessed former Team Canada ice hockey player Natalie Spooner vomit seventeen times during the season premiere of The Amazing Race Canada. Way to raise awareness of women in sport, Spoonie!
And that’s it. I hope if you woke up this morning in a grumpy mood, this comedic piece of writing changed that frown into its inverse.
If you are still miserable, sad or angry after reading this. . .well, I urge you to find a way out of this pessimistic funk.
Instead, find your way to my favourite type of funk–anything which includes Rick James! This blog is a celebration of the Okanagan, bitches!
Big shoutout to “D.C.” Don Cherry, Jaroo McGinla, High School Musical, Kraft, and Dan Gheesling for being good sports about this.
Oh, and an apology to Brett Hull. Not so much for what I wrote in this blog, but rather apologizing on behalf of Nintendo for attaching your name to a video game product which your agent did not understand. Now you know how Roger Clemens feels!
Have a topic you wish for me to discuss? Feel free to comment down below!