Last Saturday we had a dip in the waters of unfiltered Americana with a trip to see some proper Philly sport: Ice Hockey. Over here they just call it “hockey” but they also call budgies “parakeets” so what do they know. Anyway, to the average baseball-cap-wearing, cheese-steak eating Philadelphian, sport is very important. Much like football to the English. As an Englishman, and a neo-Philadelphian, I’m atypical because I think sport is a bunch of brainless shite that exists solely to keep peoples’ minds off of real politics; but that’s a tough one to argue these days.
Every bar I have ventured into over here, with literally only one or two exceptions, has had American Football on TV. They call it “football”, but also they call Sellotape “scotch tape” so what do they know. If you’ve never seen American Football, imagine 3 hours of muscular men in very tight lycra pants, or fat blokes in nylon jackets and radio headsets, spitting all over the place. That’s pretty much it. Only more boring. I never thought I’d miss proper football; over here they call it “soccer” but they also call Miller Lite “beer” so what do they know.
But, if you find a bar showing “hockey” you see something very different. You see fighting basically. Hockey is like Rollerball on ice, but more violent. They really do have fights, with fists and blood and everything and the refs only break it up when the crowd starts to seem bored. It’s probably the closest the human race has come to Gladiators since the Romans. But dull it’s not.
We got given a couple of very expensive tickets to see the Philadelphia Flyers(AKA the Broad Street Bullies) play “the ducks” or some such bollocks and thought we’d give it a go. It was probably the most American experience and also the most Philly experience we could have hoped for. We got there early so we could look around. There are a couple of bars on the ground level, and one even had a band doing very loud rock covers. There is also no shortage of places to ingest and egest unhealthy food. Here’s a picture of us enjoying a cheese-steak, some crab fries and some beer, in a bar, listening to a mediocre rock band, before the game.
The best bit is that you can take food and drink into the arena while your watching the action. This is not only a nice addition to the proceedings but pretty essential. You need to drink to provide your mind with enough cushioning to survive the outrageous amount of advertising you’re bombarded with. In common with all other American TV sports, hockey has pauses in play every 30 seconds or so, and that’s clearly so that the time can be stuffed full with ways of prising cash out of the punters. All around the arena are animated digital displays bombarding everyone with commercials the whole time. Every time play stops you get told about great ways to spend your money until play resumes.
It sounds like I’m being very negative about the experience but, quite honestly, we both thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We were quite pissed by the end though 🙂
Loads more to talk about…but another night.