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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