Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Philadelphia Flyers

Last Thurday, I went to a Philadelphia Flyers game to see my first Ice Hockey game in the US. However, before I talk about this experience, let me share the coolest word in the American language with you: To Fatfinger. This word is used (even in business) when someone made a typing error! “Yes, there is an error in that document;. Someone fatfingered it!” and I know what you are thinking now: yes, there are enough fat people in this country that would make a lot of these errors… the word can also be used as in fatfinger dialing (calling the wrong person: “Sorry, I fatfinger dialed you!”) or fatfinger text messaging for typing errors in a text message.

Back to business. Last Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers played against the San Jose Sharks. A colleague of mine has season tickets, and he offered to take me once for a ‘true American experience’. This experience starts when you enter the stadium: entertainment everywhere! Live music, TV’s everywhere, food everywhere (of course) and many excited fans. At 7:00 pm, we walked towards our seats – they were at the top of the stadium, providing an amazing view! So far, no real difference with a Dutch soccer game… until, after about 10 minutes, something happened that characterizes Ice Hockey: out of nowhere, a fight started. Usually, there is a small reason such as a tackle. Two referees stand next to the fighters, to prevent other players from joining the fight. However, the fighters can continue for a few minutes! The audience (20.000 people) stands up to encourage the fighters to go on. Fighting is illegal; however, the penalty is very low compared to Olympic or European rules (where they eliminate fighters immediately). Most teams even have one or more fighters in their selection (called Enforcers)!

In general, what I noticed about American’s popular sports (American Football, Basketball, Baseball, Ice Hockey, Golf, and Boxing) is that the focus is more on short, powerful moments and physique power, than technique and endurance. It is off course possible to use your technique to get the puck from the opponent; but isn’t it much easier to give him a body check, so you can just walk away with the puck? Moreover, the substitutions go on and on (soccer has a maximum of three per game) and the games have many time outs, next to two or three longer breaks.

In the second and third period, we were able to get some seats next to the ‘field’ which gave again some unique views. Another fun fact: a colleague of mine thought a Flyers game would be so romantic, he brought his wife to a game… on Valentine’s day!

Unfortunately, the Flyers have been playing pretty bad this month – they lost this one (1-3), it was the 10th loss in a row after a very good start of the season. The following movie shows a few body checks, encouraging fans, and the amazing tune that they play before the game starts after a time-out – you’ll recognize it!

And click here for the pictures of the Flyers! (a diashow will start)