I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a fan of hockey. While I absolutely love most sports (e.g. basketball, baseball, football, golf, tennis), hockey is one sport I’ve never been able to get into. However, last Saturday during Game One of the second round Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, you wouldn’t have known the difference between me and [insert someone who really, really, really loves hockey].
The Flyers were down 4-2 with about eight minutes left in the third period of the game. By the end of the period, the game was tied and headed to overtime. And while the Flyers lost, I couldn’t help but think about how excited and nervous I’d gotten… for a hockey game! Every shot attempt, every rebound, every big hit, they were all reason for a gasp or a scream. What was happening to me? Was I on drugs? Was this real life? Was this gonna be forever?
From an NBC sports article on April 21st, “In the United States, playoff television ratings are reaching pre-lockout levels. The first five nights of coverage on Versus have the highest cable ratings for the beginning of the post-season since 2002. The average of 543,000 viewers is up 21 per cent from last year.” It turns out, I wasn’t the only person watching hockey for the first time in a while.
The fact is that the playoffs are a different monster. Not only in hockey, but in all sports. Players elevate their game to a different level. In the NBA, teams suddenly learn how to play good defense and the stars shine. In hockey, the hits are bigger and the game is more “crisp.” In the NFL, the intensity is magnified because it’s one game, not seven, that determines whether you “win or go home.” And in baseball, the only reason to complain is the cold October (and November) weather.
Every storyline is magnified. No detail is forgotten. And what about the two best words in all of sports? Game Seven. There is nothing more exciting or intense than watching two teams battle it out in a game that will end one of their seasons. The playoffs are where champions are made, where teams and players either etch their names in eternity or are forgotten forever. While we sit at home and watch, the players on the court, field, or rink, are fighting for their legacies.
We are currently in the midst of both the NHL and NBA playoffs. Turn on your television and treat yourself to some excitement!
Some Social Media resources for the rest of the playoffs:
NBA Playoffs 2010 Twitter Feeds (Series-specific accounts created by the NBA. Very cool!)
The #StanleyCup Hashtag on Twitter