Guest Post By Aaron Sholl
The San Jose Sharks season has finally begun and I got to go to my first game this past Monday night against the Ducks. Although the Sharks didn’t win the game nor play well throughout it, the fans were a pretty raucous bunch – more so than normal. Part of it could be because the Sharks haven’t won since their season opener, but another part of it could be the new fans the Sharks and NHL have attracted this year.
With the NBA in the beginning of their lockout and baseball wrapping up, the NHL is getting a lot more popular with the casual sports fan as it is that missing sports void in between Sundays. The NHL has the largest die-hard fans but lacks the popularity from bandwagoners. I think most of those people stick to the NBA as their third sport and the NBA is taking its fans for granted with the lockout (remember, I am talking casual NBA fans, not the die-hards). Don’t be surprised if the NHL becomes the number 3 sport in the US in place of the NBA by next season since most of those bandwagoners are moving on.
Coming back to the Sharks, these new fans need some lessons on how to watch hockey while at the San Jose Arena. Consider this the hockey etiquette rules for fans:
1. This isn’t baseball so stay in your seat and wait until a stoppage before getting up. This could be my favorite thing to yell out when people are nonchalantly getting to their seats during play. Hockey is a sport that is played whistle to whistle. Football is too, but in hockey the whistles are fewer and farther between. Stay in your seat because getting up blocks the view of every row behind you and a lot can happen in those 30 seconds it takes for you to read your ticket correctly.
2. Lean back in your seat. Same concept as the first one except this is where you are actually sitting in your seat. Due to the architecture of the seats (at least in the upper deck) being so steep in the San Jose Arena, leaning forward will block everyone’s view behind you. Instead of leaning forward to see a play, move side to side through the holes of people in front of you.
3. Ask questions and be social around you. Hockey fans and players are often the best in all of sports. I love when people ask me questions on what happened, what the whistle was blown for or what penalty was called and why. Don’t be shy; get engaged in the game and those around you!
4. Stay until the end no matter what. In hockey, 2.5 seconds is long enough to score a goal off of a faceoff with room to spare. And no, it isn’t like the NBA where the last 30 seconds takes 20 minutes either. Watch this clip of Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals tie up the game and tell me your stomach wasn’t in knots in anticipation.
5. Enjoy yourself and be respectful. Remember that there are families with kids at the game so keep the profanity down a couple notches. Be creative and humorous with your heckling but also respectful of those around you. Also, if you get asked or yelled at from the person behind you to sit down or lean back, don’t stand up and faceoff with them ready to fight (yes, I have witnessed this too many times not to add that in here).
There you have it, the five basic rules to live by when going to a Sharks game for your first time. I am sure you could think of more to add to this list, so feel free to put them in the comments. The NHL is growing so for all you hockey veterans, expect to have newbies going to games for their first time all year. Hockey is generally a game that new fans fall in love with after attending a live game. Welcome anyone new and answer any questions they might have. For all you new fans of the game going to the Shark Tank this year – have fun and don’t say I didn’t warn you about the etiquette.