Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 8, 2013

John Cannon: Thankful that I’m not a hockey fan: 01/09/13

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — As I have said a number of times in previous columns, I am not a big sports fan. I’m a baseball fan.

More specifically I am a Cincinnati Reds fan. No, make that a Reds fanatic. From spring training in March until the Reds are eliminated from having any chance of winning the World Series, my life revolves around the Reds. If we are traveling, I am constantly trying to get a Reds game on radio on WLW in Cincinnati, and last summer I was actually able to hear most of a Reds game on that station while driving in Lincoln, Neb.

However, once the Reds were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the National League playoffs, my interest in baseball ended. That’s proof I’m a Reds fan instead of a baseball fan. Real baseball fans would watch every inning of the World Series. I watched maybe 10 minutes of the entire series.

I have a passing interest in other sports. I like the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team and rooted for them when they won the NCAA title last spring. However, I don’t schedule my life around UK basketball games, and if the Wildcats lose, I don’t lose a bit of sleep.

I like professional football and usually watch the Super Bowl. I guess you could say I am a mild fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, but I seldom saw them on TV this year, mainly because the West Virginia TV stations were airing the games of the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of the Bengals. That disappointed me, but I used my Sunday afternoons for more fruitful things than watching football. As for college football, since I have been spending most of my Saturdays visiting my ailing mother in Washington Court House, the only games I saw were Ohio State games. That was fine with me.

I mention all this only to say I am glad I am not a hockey fan, but I can sympathize with fans of the National Hockey League. The worst thing about being a baseball fan during my life is all the times the baseball season has been disrupted by player strikes. Eight times strikes have disrupted seasons, with the worst one in 1994, when a strike canceled the World Series.

Each time the players have gone on strike, I have vowed to end my addiction to baseball and to never watch or listen to another game. But I have yet to kick the baseball habit and probably never will. My love of the Reds is too deeply embedded in my heart.

I know as much about hockey as I do lacrosse, which is to say just about as close to nothing as one can get. Shoot, it was not until I attended a Huntington Blizzard game with adult children when I was in my early 50s that I learned a hockey game is divided into three periods with 18 minutes between each period. What do they call those breaks? Third time and two-thirds time? I don’t think so.

It was not until the NHL and the players union announced they had reached a tentative agreement I even knew the hockey season had yet to begin. Or cared.

The NHL and its players have become as addicted to strikes and player lockouts as major league players used to be. The entire 2003-04 season was wiped out by an NHL lockout, and labor problems have caused four or five other disruptions. Since I am not a hockey fan, none of this bothers me in the least, but I do want to say, as a baseball fan, I fully understand what true hockey fans are going through and they have my sympathy.

I am just so thankful I never became a hockey fan. I know who Wayne Gretsky is, but I never saw him play. And when I was watching that one Blizzard game, I kept hoping I would not be in the restroom or standing in line for popcorn when the game’s only goal was scored. I wasn’t, but I still missed seeing it.

The new agreement is supposed to be for 10 years. That should be long enough to win the fans back. Maybe.

JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2649.