Fandom is not logical but to be fair, few things in life are.
I cannot explain Sunday night in logical terms. I stomped and shouted and pulled my hair, a chimpanzee freed from the zoo. I experienced life and death simultaneously. I did everything short of throw feces at the wall. If you’ve never emotionally invested yourself in a professional hockey game with everything on the line, you should—it is death and resurrection spinning on the roulette wheel, impossible to predict where it will finish.
There are 32 teams in the NHL. Logically speaking, my team should win once every 32 years. When I think about fandom in those terms, waiting 21 years for the Colorado Avalanche to win another Stanley Cup seems like it should be a breeze. But as I marvel at the passage of time between 2001 and Sunday night, it does not feel that way. Twenty-one years just feels like a long-ass time. The differences between my 15-year-old self—a sturdy, hot-dog-loving boy who frequently acted like a chimpanzee loosed from the zoo—and my 36-year-old self are vast. The connective tissue between then and now has weakened because in almost every way, I am different. The one area that has not changed: a yearly desire to spin the roulette wheel on the Colorado Avalanche in hopes it lands on championship.
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I hadn’t forgotten what it feels like when my team wins the championship because the emotion of Ray Bourque hoisting the Cup in 2001 is seared into my soul, but time had dampened that remembrance. As the final 10 seconds drained from the clock on Sunday night, I revisited a place I hadn’t been in two decades: when sports are good, there’s nothing better. Imagine it as a resurrection of sorts, the gift of life returned to someone who once partook but assumed it would never return. I screamed at the top of my lungs as Avalanche players flung their equipment into the air because sometimes, that is the only way to release a bubbling cauldron of emotion. It is not logical, but matters of the heart never are.
When your team wins, it feels so personal that you cannot comprehend another person feeling this way. And then you hear other fans’ stories and you nod your head—yes, yes, that is it. When your team wins, it is somehow personal AND universal. It is the connective tissue that stretches across both time and humanity. And even as I write this newsletter and attempt to parse through my jumbled, ecstatic thoughts, I realize the NHL described winning the Stanley Cup better than I ever could: for this experience, there are no words.
If you are willing to share your personal/universal tale of fandom, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).