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Tuesdays With Hildy, Chapter 1: To Go Or Not To Go?

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About the Author (which shall be written in 3rd person to sound pompous):

Hildymac is a lifelong Blues fan (which is so impressive since she's in her late 20s) who moved to the metro Atlanta area in 1992. She's managed to keep up with the team and the sport long distance, and, even more impressively, did so for many years before the proliferation of hockey-ness on the Internet. This was made mildly easier in 1999, when the Atlanta Thrashers joined the NHL. She has been attending Thrashers game since game one's loss against the Devils and is perhaps foolishly, perhaps not, a season ticket holder for them. She enjoys the Thrashers because she apparently has a streak for *that* sort of thing.

Her blog, Wazzupwitchu (she is also versed in the music of Eddie Murphy) is the only blog on the web dedicated to both the Thrashers and the Blues. Her love of the Blues is always politely tolerated and humored by the Thrashers fan community, and her support of the Thrashers is looked on with amusement and occasional questions of "Um, will you guys still keep Kovalchuk?" by Blues fans.

Sean and Brad were nice enough to offer me a weekly feature on St. Louis Game Time because I apparently "know stuff" and "write good" (or not). Being a woman, I am extremely thankful that their idea for what I need to do didn't float towards "a woman's point of view of hockey" or "here are some photos of TJ Oshie with his shirt off ZOMG" or things of that nature.

Instead, they vaguely remembered that I sponsor the debate team at the high school where I teach, and decided that could be a fun way to go. But, instead of debating others on a different topic each week, I could debate myself. Apparently they also remembered that I teach AP Psychology, and might have some background in schizophrenia and multiple personalities, which makes writing on my first topic "Hockey: The HDTV or the Arena Experience" far easier

More after the jump to the left...

Something I get harassed about constantly is the fact that I have season tickets. My friends and family find it insane that I spend a grand a year on these, so I decided to look at their point of view and see if yes, I really am a nutter. And, lest you think that friends and family question my sanity just because of who I have to buy season tickets for, I assure you I would probably get the same verbal abuse if they were for the Blues. There's something about spending an insane amount of money for a sports team that they just don't understand.

Center Ice: Or, How I Lost My Social Life in 10 Minutes

Ahh, Center Ice. When you want to get away from the horrible Versus broadcasts. When you're tired of people mis-identifying players on your team to fawn over the opposing team: "Yeah, No. 42 just scored a goal, but have you SEEN HOLMSTROM'S ASS? It's a thing of beauty!" And, of course, when you want to watch out of market games or games that aren't broadcast on a home feed.

Granted, yes, you don't need Center Ice to watch your home team play every (or almost) every game. It is helpful, though, when you need to get the opposing team's perspective on a game. That's something that's overlooked by a lot of fans. Yes, you might not care what the Blackhawks think of Perron's puckhandling, but perhaps you need to know what's going on in your enemy's noggin. It's a blast to know what your team does that gets under the opposition's skin, and it might just make you think about what your guys could do better. The opposition's feed will point out things that your team is doing wrong a lot more often than your own feed can, and it is better to hear this from Comcast Sportsnet than it is from that drunk bandwagon fan in his Kane jersey.

That's another thing about watching at home... no one should be anywhere near you who doesn't like your team. If you have family or friends who happen to cheer for Chicago or Detroit, you don't have to listen to them scream into your ear when their team scores, or have them heckle you if the Blues lose. If the Blues manage to lose a game, you can cry in your beer at home, without shame. Remember, seeing a grown man cry at a hockey game is just wrong, and seeing a grown woman cry at one is awkward.

Probably the best thing about watching at home (other than the pause function on your DVR if you have to go to the restroom) is the fact that you can drink a six pack of beer for the price of one at the game. This isn't something that I necessarily condone due to caloric intake, but occasionally it is necessary and it's a hell of a lot safer to do it at home than it is out and about.

"SHOOT THE PUCK!" Or, Why Being Surrounded by Dumbasses is Fun

You and I have both had to sit somewhere near the moron at the game. Not the newbie to hockey, who is interested and wants to learn more. No, the idiot who brought his girlfriend or is with the rest of his douchey guy friends and who just haaaaas to impress someone with his in-depth knowledge of hockey. Inevitably they are drunk. I actually enjoy sitting near these people because a) I like making fun of them and b) sooner or later the usher's going to come by and boot them out after they barf on an 8-year-old (happened to a friend of mine's kid - no joke). Can you get that atmosphere at home? No. (Editor's note: Hildymac has obviously never been to the Answer Man's home.)

There are just some things about hockey that have to be experienced live. You can kind of hear the crowd on TV, but sometimes the announcers' feed drowns it out. You have problems making out the "you suck" chant. You want to join in yelling "Let's go Blues!" but you feel like an idiot doing it from your couch. You try to dump beer on your dog to see what it feels like to drench a Wings fan "on accident." It just isn't the same. There's something nice about stepping into a chilly arena, hearing the pounding music during warm-ups, and watching grown men make little kids' days by flipping pucks over the glass, or maybe giving a lucky kid a stick. You have your beer, you have the nice soft pretzel, and you relax. You forget about the worries of the day, or maybe you watch the game to kind of vent the frustration of the day out onto the ice. Being in an arena is like being in an alternate reality. You, for two and a half hours, have something in common with almost 18,000 other people. It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat, rich or poor (or middle class), black or white, or any of the myriad of differences that separate us. You want the Blues to win at all costs. You can talk to the stranger next to you about anything hockey related at all - and, if you're a STH, you have the added perk of possibly getting to know the people around you and making new friends for the season. I go to a lot of games solo since I just have the one season ticket, but with the friends I've made at the games and on-line, it's never an issue and it's always a blast. It's just a unique, fun, experience that can't be replicated.