Why am I a fan of the Vancouver Canucks, and can I stretch an analogy beyond the limits of absurdity and still have a point? Let’s find out.
Things I now know
I haven’t watched the Vancouver Canucks much this season. I still follow them. But my time is spent in the present these days. I’ve had to let my nostalgia lapse.
I became a Dad again last month.
Becoming a Dad is weird. Eventually it becomes part of your identity, but the beginning is weird. I guess beginnings often are.
Becoming a fan is also weird. Luckily, the weirdness is lost to our youth and irretrievable memories. But to care — to truly care — about a roster of people we’ll never know is a strange way to spend precious leisure time. To be fair, the drinking helps.
The connection to our youth, our family and our friends helps more.
Even if your fandom is built on being a Canucks fan in a family of Bruins supporters, it is still built on memories of love and connection. A fight, after all, is still a connection of strong emotions. It is, as Mikey Foucault would say, a relationship of forces.
I’ve been a Vancouver Canucks fan since 1982, but I am a new Dad, again.
If you’re not a Dad, or you’re an old school ‘introduce yourself when they’re eighteen’ sort of Dad, you might be confused by the ‘again’ part of that declaration.
The truth is, you don’t remember much of the beginning. It becomes a story told in reverse. It is, like all great connections, like all traditions, an invention.
I love my twins with all my heart, and I love the newest little one too. This wasn’t always the case, although it feels like it was.
Things I now feel
At this point, you’ve either stopped reading or begun to wonder what this has to do with the Vancouver Canucks.
Every year, regardless of the success of the team I explore my reasons for continuing to love this sport, and this team. Every year, it is hard to justify my lifelong passion based on the small sample size of that season. But, of course, loving is not a small sample size — loving is always an aggregated invention of our past, built on our feelings in the present.
For instance, I love Harold Snepsts. I don’t mean that ironically. I am not being funny. He is part of my past, and my present.
I didn’t love my twins when they were first born. I didn’t know them. How can you love something you don’t know? Maybe some people can. I’m not built that way. Also, I think those people are liars. It took time to know and love my boys.
It probably took time to know and love Snepsts. I’m not sure. I was too young. I only remember loving him. He is always part of my fandom.
Whenever I see a player wearing number 27 without a mustache, male pattern baldness and who can actually skate, I wonder what miracle has been performed on Snepsts. (I’m looking your way, Ben Hutton, ya un-mustached pretty boy).
Loving something outside of yourself is a profoundly and continuously weird experiment.
Being a parent or a fan is best described as an unfathomable mix of strangeness and gratitude.
Things I now think
I take immense pleasure in the growth and learning of my boys, whether it is informed by my parenting or not. I take incredible joy from watching the Vancouver Canucks play, even though my connection is built from my own obsession.
All of life is a construct of emotions and histories. The mistake is to think this makes the constructs less solid. I really do love the Canucks. I really do love my boys. I don’t love my boys because of blood, or family traits, or resemblance. I love them because of the time, effort and energy I’ve expended on them.
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They’ve taken that time and energy and surprised me with it. The Canucks do the same thing — 1982, 1994, and 2011 are all surprises built on time, effort and admiration. Time plus energy plus surprise is love. Love is a habit that never totally bores.
This is why sports teams are so easy to love. This is why being a parent is hard to explain.
When I see the Vancouver Canucks, I see Richard Brodeur, and Harold Snepsts, and Garth Butcher, and Markus Naslund, and Pavel Bure, and Trevor Linden, and Bo Horvat, and Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin.
When I see my children I see Sid and Hector as newborns, struggling to breathe in the neo-natal intensive care unit. I see them naked doing tummy time in the first full summer of their lives, on our living room floor on quilts made by their Great Aunt. I see them learn to pick their heads up, and start to roll over. I see them walk for the first time during Thanksgiving dinner at Gramma and Papa’s. I see every triumph and failure. I see all the blood and tears and smiles. I see every attempt.
I love them all.
Things I now understand
I also understand why I will never totally be an adult in my mother’s eyes. It’s because I am so much more to her. I am her past, present and future embodied in an object she loves. As a child this was useful. As a young adult this was annoying. As a parent this makes perfect sense.
It’s not much different with the Canucks. I don’t know if being a parent has fundamentally changed me. I don’t know if the perspective I’ve gained with age has calmed me down. But, I adore the folly I see in my children. I adore the stumbles the Vancouver Canucks make on the way to greatness.
In both cases, the most important thing is time. Quality is overrated. Quantity is what my kids need and the Canucks deserve.
The kids take up most of my time now. I know the Vancouver Canucks can wait. For me, they’re all grown up. I don’t need to see every drop of blood, tear or triumph.
One day, I’ll share them with my children. And I’ll see their young love, their new fandom and I’ll smile.
Loving the Vancouver Canucks will be habit for them too.