Not everyone gets to watch their favorite team make it to the big game in their lifetime. As any Cubs fan under the age of 108 can tell you, a championship is an elusive prize that only a select few fans get to experience. However, if you are from Chicago, you have likely had more than enough luck to make up for the longest championship dry spell in sports. In fact, as long as you are old enough to drink, you have had the pleasure of watching the Bulls and the Blackhawks respectively rise to the top of the proverbial mountain.
With the Blackhawks entering the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in five years tomorrow night, you might need a refresher course on how to watch your team fight for hockey’s ultimate prize. This is a short guide to help you enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals as much as possible:
1. Watch The Game
Yes, you have a lot of experience socializing during the Super Bowl. After all, they are called “Super Bowl parties.” But hockey is not a “one play at a time” sport. Hockey is a constantly moving sport that stops for no bathroom break, no beer run and definitely no chit-chat. If you must talk, don’t expect eye contact. Particularly with a team like the Blackhawks, you could miss a highlight in the blink of an eye. So no blinking either. Just shut up and watch the game. You can talk again at intermission.
2. Go To A Bar
You don’t have to drink. You don’t have to eat wings. You don’t even have to talk to anyone. But there are few things more exciting than experiencing a third-period go-ahead goal with 20-50 strangers screaming at the top of their lungs. Granted, in most other situations, this does not sound very appealing. But if you are actually watching the game (see Step 1), the excitement of experiencing it with similarly-invested people is quite a thrill. And if you are in Chicago, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
3. See Every Game
If you watch a lot of sports, you know that stories make it that much more enjoyable. If you want the full experience, you need to see Game 1 through Game 7. No excuses. You wouldn’t skip an episode of Breaking Bad in the middle of a Netflix binge. You wouldn’t skip to dessert right after cocktails, as much as you would like to. And you shouldn’t skip any of the Stanley Cup Finals. Besides, if you watch all of them, you’ll be able to sound like you know what you’re talking about when you reference something that happened in the last game. Who doesn’t love that?!
4. Don’t Get Too Sad
Sports can bring people together and they can rip people apart. Sorry, that was a bit dramatic. But as someone that has jumped on and crawled underneath many couches in response to Stanley Cup Finals moments, there are only so many ways to get over a loss. The key is to take it out on other people as little as possible. Don’t let it ruin your night. You came out to have fun. Go to another bar and politely ask the bar to turn off SportsCenter. Highlights of your team losing are not conducive to a fun night. And remember, at the end of the day, it’s just a game.
5. It Is Not Just A Game
Never say “it is just a game.” It’s not. I mean, technically speaking, yes it is a game. However, the Stanley Cup Finals, like any professional sports championship game or series, are a chance for the people of a city to come together for something great. People get married in Blackhawks jerseys. People learn how to cry from happiness because of overtime goals. People make their team a part of their family. It’s not just a game. It’s a game that makes people happy. You know… unless you lose.