And The Journey Begins.

In many ways being a dedicated fan of a particular team is like being a mountain climber.  There are the hard times of the climb, the exhilarating times at the summit, and the mixed emotions of the descent.

You see, so much of our rabidity as fans comes from having been through this climb already.  We had the lows of embarrassingly bad seasons, we’ve suffered the jokes, chiding and, worst of all, abject dismissal.  Then, as a weary but determined group, we enjoyed the first view of the horizon, as it emerged over the peak of the long arduous route to the top.  We knew we weren’t yet at the summit, but we were getting there, the worst was behind us, and, if we just kept going, we would make it to the top.  Finally, reaching summit.  The view was spectacular, awe-inspiring, and indelible upon our psyches as fans.  We never wanted to go back down…but you always have to go back down.

The journey down is always difficult.  There isn’t the promise of the peak to assuage the fatigue, instead you must rely on the memories of the summit to remind you of why you find yourself where you are.  You try to embrace the descend as a journey in its own, enjoy the same view as before, but from a different angle, but, ultimately, it pales in comparison to the exhilaration of the ascent, leaving you wishing you were still at the top, not on the way back down.

But now, as an experienced hiker (read fan), you know the effort is worth the reward.  When you stand at the base of your next summit, you see the rock strewn path, the daunting angle of ascent, and, most importantly, the wind-swept peak, with its promise of a rare view, all the more rich for the effort it will have required to attain.

This doesn’t mean you aren’t intimidated by the climb, or can ignore the reality that, at times in the journey ahead, you will question if it is really worth the effort.  You know it will be a tough journey, and like it or not, the ascend may be harder than expected, the path longer than hoped.  But you have the memory of having reached the apex before, and now must impart this knowledge upon those beside you who have not yet enjoyed this experience.

We, as long-term fans, need to really, really get this.  It’s not just important for our own sanity (because there are going to be some moments of extreme frustration, and worse, ribbing), but it’s important for the fans who haven’t been here since the teams inception.  The fans who have only enjoyed the peak, or worse, the decline.  Now is the time to remind them (and each-other), that it is worth the effort.  Remind them (and us) to stop along the way, take a breather, and enjoy the view on the way to the top.  To remember that, when you reach the top, all will forgotten, replaced by a surreal euphoria, a euphoria that cannot be forgotten, and forever brand you as a true  fan.

Today is the first step in the next climb to the top…and I can’t wait to stand upon the next summit, and once again experience the journey to the top.

Are you coming?



3 Responses to “And The Journey Begins.”

  1. GN…I’m no mountain climber but did ya know…Hockey needs a poet!

  2. I’ll work at being a true fan if all the players work to be their best. I’ll take the ribbing and the losses, I’ll even keep my mouth shut when some Leafer berates my team – just so long as they’re working their asses off and not suffering from Kovalevitis.

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