Kings Fans or Sports Fans — Does it Really Matter?
by Alex Edel | Middlebury College
Throughout the year in Los Angeles it might go below freezing once, in which case people put on their skiing apparel and refuse to go outside. For the most part the Golden State city is mostly a one-season kind of place, rarely dropping below 50 degrees. These conditions make ice hockey a strange and unlikely sport for Angelinos to compete in or to even understand. I can count on one hand the amount of ice rinks that I know of in Los Angeles County, while the amount of basketball courts or swimming pools are in the thousands.
Despite this natural bias towards basketball, this season we saw the Lakers and the Clippers fall in the early rounds of the NBA playoffs while the Los Angeles Kings easily grabbed the Stanley Cup title. How did the fans deal with it? Well they jumped right from watching their familiar NBA playoffs to watching the Kings play for the Stanley Cup. According to LAPD an estimated 250,000 people gathered in downtown L.A. to watch the Kings celebrate their massive victory.
Hundreds of thousands of fans throughout L.A. watched the games, tweeted and posted on Facebook regarding the historic Stanley Cup. The Kings outstanding and clear cut 6-1 win was the first in franchise history, leading many fans from colder climates to accuse these people of not being true Kings fans. In sport culture there seems to always be an extremely strong aversion to fans “jumping on the band wagon” for a team right when they are doing extremely well. This is not really being fair to the team or the fans. While most people living in L.A. are not hockey fans, they are and have shown in last few weeks to be Kings fans. They threw their support before a team who had never won in the Stanley Cup Finals. While the team got the support and encouragement of a large fan base, sport fans throughout Southern California had something to feel pride and excitement about. As a result, the Kings won the Stanley Cup, and the L.A. fans were given a sense of pride and encouragement that is so hard to find in this day and age.
Ice hockey can be hard to follow when one does not know small facets of the game like what a power play is and how the players use the space behind the nets to really set up and execute their plays. However, the game can still be extremely exciting, thrilling and satisfying to watch. Names like Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick may not be as familiar as Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol, but that does not mean that when the time comes Angelinos won’t be rooting for the unbelievably talented players that brought the city the Stanley Cup.
So yes, many may have been jumping on the “fan wagon,” but so what?
The games were exciting, their trip to the finals unlikely and there was something finally new and exciting to give Angelinos something to root for and be proud of. These emotions do not come easily to people currently fighting for jobs in a state with a $16 billion deficit and in a city where day-to-day activities are determined by traffic flow. So, why is it so bad that people jumped on the ride of success that came with the success of an ice-hockey team, and were able to feel a sense of pride for their city and a sense of community spirit?
Yes, people will most likely not watch regular season hockey, because in L.A. ice hockey is a little hard to relate to, but the Kings gave the people of L.A. something to root for and something to have pride in, a fact that most accusers of “bandwagon fans” ignore.
Being a sports fan doesn’t necessarily have to be about what sport you are rooting for. It is the feeling of pride, hope, spirit and community that really drives fans to root for their city, no matter the sport.Alex is a rising Junior at Middlebury College majoring in Political Science and minoring in Film and Media Studies. She grew up in Pacific Palisades, California.