Sarah Connors begins her rant against the Detroit Red Wings with the adage, “there is not nearly enough hate in this world for the Detroit Red Wings.” The comedy bronze-worthy banter that ensues is enough to enlighten Bruins fans, enrage Red Wings fans and confuse newly-minted hockey fans like myself. Even so, I felt the need to brush up on my local hockey knowledge and consult “experts” like Connors since an old friend who’s a bleeding-heart Red Wings fan was coming to visit.
To add insult to injury, she wanted to watch Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. In public. Dressed in full red and white regalia.
Fuck me. Maybe I should revise my will instead of wasting my efforts here.
Boston sports aficionados are brutal–even when their teams aren’t playing. If your colors look nothing like those found on a Pats, Red Sox, Celtics or Bruins jersey (sorry, but nobody cares about the Revolutions), then you’re in for an interesting encounter. Insults slurred by drunken wit, one or two shoves that can easily translate into a brawl and so on. Local assholes don’t kid around that much. (Ah, the power of overpriced alcohol…)
Even so, I decided to grant her wish and brave the hostile wilds of the Boston sports bar scene. What follows is a brief account of what happened, what I learned and why publicized idiocy makes me laugh so goddamn much.
Report #095-2A.03, AKA Operation #ihavenoideawhatimdoing
We infiltrate a Michigan stronghold in Somerville publicly known as Parlor Sports. It’s a fine establishment with a cozy little bar, several tables and a few booths, and wall-to-wall television screens for the benefit of the Michiganders in attendance. Being that I am neither a native of Michigan nor of Boston, I must be discrete.
I found out about this place when several former Michiganders-turned-Townies responded to my Reddit queries. Turns out that Boston allows fans of non-Boston sports teams to congregate in public and support their respective teams–as long as none of the city’s teams are then engaged. What’s more is that, though it confesses no particular affiliation, the Parlor has developed a reputation as a Michigan-friendly establishment.
We arrive half an hour early to find every television cued to the Michigan/Wisconsin game. Fans of the former loudly shout from their perches. It’s a small room, too–so we hear everything. But that’s okay because the bartender’s ready to turn one of the big screens over to us.
My friend sports a subtle mix of red and white, topped off with a not-so-subtle official Red Wings® beanie. I, on the other hand, am purposely dressed in neutral colors. No reds, whites, blacks or golds–just clothes that no drunken fan could possibly misread. At least, I hope. (Drunks can be clever bastards.)
My concerns aside, everything goes off without a hitch. The game was exciting (if not miraculous), the plays were thrilling and the fights were–well, let’s face it, it’s hockey. A recent convert to the game and without a team to call my own, I never felt threatened by the visiting Michiganders or the browsing locals. Just good sports in a nice place. Plus, the shots my friend requested for the Red Wings’ second (illegal?) goal and game-winning shootout proved helpful, too. Something about alcohol and ambiance, I think–my memory’s foggy.
So why all the hate? Yes, I get that there are team rivalries. And, for that matter, there’s just the sometimes-frightening devotion of fandom’s diehards. Seriously, though–for every helpful tip I received on Reddit, there was usually an accompanying jab from a Bruins fan or a warning about hecklers from a Red Wings fan. Even my friends were quick to judge.
I’m no stranger to this. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (yes, I know–it’s that bad), I’ve endured competition and (in)competency of all kinds. But the immediacy with which people jumped onto the Detroit hate train was amazing. Connors and Reddit notwithstanding, Boston (Bruins) sports fans can be assholes.
Then again, such ire does help to lighten things up a bit. It’s a helluva lot of fun to heckle, too. My training remains ongoing, but I’m sure that I’ll attain true Beantown standing once I purchase a Chara jersey, exclaim continual hatred for the Yankees and obtain shares in the Boston Beer Company. Until then, I’ll sign off here and hope this report serves as some kind of record of–I don’t know, stuff? Whatever.