November 4, 2011

A Lesson in Appreciation

On my short visit back to the motherland (Ohio) I attended a Columbus Bluejackets game of which my brother in law is a season ticket holder.  The 3-1 win over Anaheim would prove to be only their second win of the season, but it was hard fought and well played overall.  Afterwards we were fortunate enough to get "backstage" to meet some of the players as they exited the locker rooms, and while I am am not a collector of memorabilia or anything I do like meeting elite athletes and showing my support.  Not to mention these are prime opportunities to see the real character of a hockey superstar (or up and comer).

So a few Bluejackets come stumbling out of the locker room meeting the fans, taking pictures with the kids, signing autographs... the whole nine yards.   Jonas Hiller, Anaheim's net-minder who just lost to the worst team in the NHL, comes walking out clearly not expecting any fans in "enemy territory" and starts heading towards the bus.  Two young ladies next to us scream his name and get his attention where he comes over to sign autographs, and take a picture with the girls.  Come to find out they are new to hockey and he is their favorite player.  Jonas literally made their year by simply coming over to spend not even 2 minutes with them!   It reminded me of what this great sport is all about.

Now keep in mind players do not "have" to do these things, though it can be argued that you are a complete douche waffle if you cannot spend 5 minutes hob-nobbing with the folks who struggle in their day to day lives to make enough to care for their families and buy those tickets, which in turn pay for the Masserati's and BMW's of players such as Teemu Selanne.

I have grown up watching Teemu play and he is honestly one of the best ever!  But the way he reacted when some kids called his name made me want to pull his suit up over his head and beat the Finn out of him.  He just mumbled "Not tonight" to the crowd and quickly jumped on his cell phone.  What an ass!  Apparently Finnish hospitality is not like Ohio's!

I am grateful that RJ Umberger took a few moments and shook my hand and took a pic.  I have met him a couple times and he is always nice and more then willing to meet with fans.  A grad of Ohio State RJ just signed an extension with Columbus so it looks positive that he will retire there.  I hope the Jackets can get their shit together to win him a championship!

I guess this experience just put a few things in perspective, especially in a place where the economy is hurting SO BAD!  Be humble and grateful for what you have.  Some of us would give limbs just to step on the ice and play a game we love, let alone get paid MILLIONS of dollars to do it!   It does not take much to show some class.  Conversely it does not take much to show a complete lack of it either, huh Teemu!?

Cheers
Jake

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