Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sports in Stockholm

It happened. Finally. After several failed attempts, I was able to see Peter Forsberg play live in Sweden. Earlier this season I had bought tickets, only to learn the day of the game that he would not be playing. With Forsberg’s injury history, it wasn’t horribly surprising. It was horribly disappointing. I went to the game anyway, mostly because I love sports.

I came away questioning that love because of my disgust with the Djurgården hockey fans. Let me point out, that I have no allegiance to any Stockholm sports club. At all. I’ve been to AIK hockey matches and been disgusted by the fans there as well, it just happens that Djurgården is playing in Elitserien, probably the third best hockey league in the world. AIK is not.

I go to hockey to watch hockey. Not to drink myself stupid. Not to vent my pent up frustration of mediocrity at men who do something that I can’t even dream of. Not to fall into the mindless drone that is the mob. But I suppose to each his own.

So I went, I listened to the vitriol spewed by the fans, many of them drunk. I told my father later that I would never take a child to a hockey game in Sweden. Ever. There should be some sort of rating system like the movies. Hockey in Sweden, or in Stockholm at least, should definitely be rated PG-13. At best.

But I went back. Not because I like to throw myself into situations which I dislike, but because I grew up watching Peter Forsberg in Colorado, and having the opportunity to watch him in Sweden was not something I was willing to miss. The game was last night. Friday night I saw a report that he had hurt his finger and was questionable to play in Stockholm. Damn it. Again. I frantically reloaded various sports websites over the course of my Saturday hoping that I would read good news. I did. He was in. Hurting, but in. So last night I was there again, this time I paid a bit extra for better seats in the hopes that the market economy would sort out the riff raff. It did. Kind of.

At least those surrounding me this time chose not to direct their ire at young children as they had the last game. Although, I did learn a few new Swedish words. But I am constantly amazed by the aggression shown at hockey games. I have become so used to the lack of passion and fight in the Swedish people (a gross generalization, I know) that to see the fanatics come out is jarring. It may be that what I am seeing is no worse than in the US, but that I have built up a picture of the subdued Swede, and having that picture shattered makes it all the more surprising. It could all be relative. But I just don’t think so.

I wasn’t watching the crowd though; instead I had my eyes glued on umber 21 in the MODO jersey. He was out of sync and it was clear that he hadn’t played himself back into shape. But he still managed to make passes that amazed me. He was more physical than I remember, a sign that he’s lost a step or two, but those passes, that vision, they were still there. And seeing his numbers, averaging just over a point a game, there is still some fight left in the old man. MODO lost, Forsberg didn’t score, nor did he have an assist. But it didn’t matter. I watched Peter Forsberg play in Sweden. Finally.

Now, I am waiting for the sun to go down so I can take a nap. Because I am preparing to make poor choices on a Sunday night. It is Super Bowl Sunday. Of course, since the game doesn’t start until after midnight, that is a bit of a misnomer, but Super Bowl Monday just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Either way, I need the nap because I intend to watch a football game on TV that starts after midnight and tends to last at least three hours. I also intend to work the next morning.

Welcome to Sweden. And the wide world of sports.

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  1. Om du verkligen vill se lite våld och aggression (och lära sig lite nya fina svenska ord) borde du gå på en fotbollsmatch mellan AIK och Djurgården :-). Finns väldigt få klubbar i Europa som hatar varandra lika mycket som dessa.

    Hockey är lite roligare att titta på dock, synd att Foppagubben börjar bli lite gammal nu bara.

  2. I've always wondered what hockey games are like in Sweden since I've never had the opportunity to go. I too imagined them to be subdued ,especially comparing them to Canadian hockey games. Now I have an image in my head, thanks to you hair!

    Good luck with technically, Super Bowl MONDAY. you know, this means no sleep.
    more importantly, don't fall asleep at work!! :D

    have fun! :)

  3. I still wonder where the heck you manage to score seats at hockey games! Hairy, you know me - I'm as "helylle" as they come; I'm a country music loving scout leader for crying out loud!, but I'm also an avid AIK fan who goes to both hockey and football. Yet, I don't think I've ever been as appalled as you seem. How can that be? Are you still willing to come with to an AIK game (hockey and footy actually) so I can show you what us true fans are like?

    Mind you, I do remember growing up and the away "klack" shouting "Peter Gradin, jävla svin" at AIK hockey games, which was most upsetting to a 10-year old who looked up to him like a father :( But that's about all.

    I'm intending to get up to watch the Superbowl as well, but I'm unsure of why - I don't even understand the game...but I'm a sucker for sports!

  4. Like Betebu said! You should see AIK- Djurgården meet eachother what you saw on saturday was nothing! Ive seen rangers live myself and the atmosphere was quite good when they had the lead. But its intresting that Crowds can be that diffrent with just an ocean in between. It might have somthing with ticket prices to do. if i remeber correctly it was pretty expencive to watch an NHL game. If tickets were cheaper i think 17-20 year olds would go to nhl games and scream alot aswell

  5. Cool post, Forsberg is my favorite player in the world to watch. I grew up in Colorado watching him play at McNichols and hope to see him again over there if I get into school in Lund.

    What are Elitserien ticket prices like?

  6. Another revelation (first the news about the low toilet seats and now this)! Swedes actually get ill-tempered and aggressive, and at a hockey game??? In a way, I guess it's nice to know they don't repress their emotions all the time. Can you imagine the energy that takes??

    Hope you enjoyed the Superbowl. Who dat?? -S :)

  7. Modo vann idag och Forsberg fick 2 poäng, synd att du inte såg den matchen :-)

  8. Hej. En mycket viktigt fråga som jag länge funderat över, men som dock inte har något med detta inlägg att göra, men anyway: Varför har inte papperspåsar handtag i USA, extremt opraktiskt? Var i USA i en månad ett tag sedan och hittade inte en enda papperspåse med handtag, extremt frustrerande.

  9. @Leetnoob - BAHAhahahah!!! I've wondered about that too for the last 20 years! They're _crap_!!!

  10. AIK är Bäst! ^^

  11. NHL is the best hockey league in the world thanks to all the Swedish players over there, :-)

  12. Haha! I love our mob mentality. I love the buzz and the aggressive atmosphere. The roar of the crowd and the chanting.

    It's in no way exclusive to Sweden of course, most of europe has the same sort of fan culture.

    I find it a bit interesting that the US & Canada is two of a few places in the world that has a distinctly different sports fan culture actually.

  13. I just happened on your blog and love it! I will be back to view your posts often.

  14. You must understand that Christianity was forced upon us by the kings and the priests 1000 years ago and it was never very popular here, and today sports is the only outlet for our true barbarian behavior.

  15. @Betepu – that’s what Ive heard. I think I just need to bite the bullet and do it. As a cultural experience.

    And it is kind of sad. But damn, every once and a while he still has those flashes.

    @Lost – You definitely need to check out a hockey game here.

    @Stacy – Saints? Man, I am good at this.

    @terander – clearly in the evil side of the stands. Im in for some AIK.

    @anonymous – Youre right about the ticket prices. Although, it’s the people who are between the ages of about 20 and 35 that seem to cause the most problems here in Sweden. The teenagers tend to be on quite good behavior.

    @anonymous – if you get the chance, make it happen. You can still see that it is him. Hes got that little lean back while skating on one skate that he does before the faceoff.

    Anyway, prices aren’t too bad. 160 SEK and up.

    @anonymous – Im breaking down cultural stereotypes.

    I loved the super bowl!

    @Il Gimli – I saw that. I might have to try to snag another game in March when he comes to Södertälje.

    @Leetnoob – that is an amazing question. And one I have never thought of. Can anyone else answer why there are no handles on paper bags in the US?

    We need to start a movement.

    @terander – clearly I have just taken the handles here in Sweden for granted.

    @anonymous – it seems you are not alone in your assertion.

    @Per – it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. Hell Detroit may as well just send their team as the Swedish national team to Vancouver.

    @DIF – I really need to get to some sporting events in other European countries. Because you are right, the fan culture really does seem to differ on this side of the Atlantic.

    @Laura – thanks!

    @Per – I love it. Blame the Christians.

  16. First, I think Peter Forsberg peaked when he played for Colorado, I was a Colorado fan myself at that time, :-)

    Second, Vikings had there own natural and original religion, Asa Gods. The highest honor was to die in war with the sword in your hand, then you came to Valhall, the home of Oden, to eat and drink for eternity. The Vikings was the first global traders and pirates and did discover America and still some of our weekdays is named by the Viking Gods. Wednesday is Onsdag is Odens day, Thursday is Torsdag is Tors day and Friday is Fredag is Frejas day.

    So we Swedes are just a bunch of barbarians, slightly civilazied by Christianity, but ishockey brings out our true violent nature. Something like that, :-)

  17. its true, he definitely had his heyday in an Avalanche jersey.

    So the hockey fans are like Loki? The trickster God who no one really seemed to like but still tolerated?

  18. @Per

    Dock så har en ny teori på sistone kommit upp som pekar på att Irländska munkar ska ha varit de första att nå Amerika. Läs mer här

    Rätt intressant faktiskt.

  19. I seem to remember you getting into a "small brawl" at a hockey game one time?? brings it out in everyone i guess.

  20. @rezyl - Ive started hearing a bit about that too. some wandering irish monks managed to make their way across the atlantic.

    @mamma - I was protecting the old man.

  21. :)

  22. damn near brings tears to my eyes.