Last week, Brock Sports had one of their biggest weeks of the year — in terms of importance of the game being played by their teams. Now, I’m someone who loves the weekends where Brock has home volleyball games, home games for men’s and women’s hockey, and home games for men’s and women’s basketball all in the span on three days. Those are great weekends for people who dive into Brock Sports and truly care and follow the teams. Nonetheless, no one can deny the feeling of being part of the home crowd in the playoffs.
I was able to attend both home playoff games for Brock, men’s basketball who hosted Ryerson on Wednesday night, and men’s hockey who hosted York on Friday night. Despite the loss on Wednesday night for men’s basketball, the crowd was electric. The atmosphere Brock Sports has been able to create at games at Bob Davis is awesome, and the fans sure do make a case for being the best in Canada. Friday night, the Seymour-Hannah Centre was packed, with the highest attendance since 2015. But, I will say this, as fun as it is to be in those atmospheres for basketball games is, the Badger fan base needs to start getting to the rink for hockey game more consistently. The atmosphere at Brock’s game against York this past Friday was awesome, and if the rink can be packed like that at regular season games, it’s going to be a tough arena for other teams to come play in. I know it’s hard to get to the Seymour-Hannah Centre if you don’t have your own transportation, but there are ways to get there if you live near Brock or the Pen Centre. It would be great to see Brock send more student shuttles from the school to the rink for home games as well.
On the topic of Brock Sports, not enough has been said of our wrestling programs. Five national championships in a row for both the men’s and women’s programs, that is unprecedented success. Brock has set a standard for wrestling that may never be matched by another program while we are alive. Marty Calder and his staff have built a legacy in their time at Brock — and while wrestling isn’t the typical sport that gets the gymnasium filled — Brock wrestling is a program that should fill the gymnasium. Any time you have a chance next season to watch these athletes compete, take up the opportunity.
This past weekend, the Leafs and Capitals took the game outdoors at Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium. Outdoor games have lost their magic. When it was just the one game (the Winter Classic), it was a big event — even just to sit down and watch the game on TV. Going to the game, a whole other experience in and of itself. The awe of the game being played in its natural environment has been lost, because now, we don’t just have the Winter Classic — we have the Stadium Series, a Heritage Classic, and so much more. NCAA men’s hockey often has more than two outdoor games a year, and AHL teams have had outdoor games as well.
The NHL, however, has turned the outdoor games into “just another game” and not something that everyone wants to see. To me, the game between Toronto and Washington this past weekend was not really an “outdoor game” — it was game number 67 for Toronto, and it just happened to be played outdoors.
One of the best aspects of the Winter Classic was to see teams wear jerseys that they used to wear 30, 40, or 50 years ago. Wearing all white uniforms? All black uniforms? It [the outdoor game] shouldn’t be so common that a team has to create new designs for the game, it should be throwback jerseys that remind people of a time when the game used to be played more outdoors. Outdoor games are about a parent taking their young kid to the game and explaining the history of the team they grew up watching, telling stories about the players who were headlining stories when they were kids. Outdoor games are about reminding people of the purity of the game in its simplest form.
But what is pure and simple about these outdoor games? I don’t find them to be what they should anymore, they’re marketing tools and ways to make money for the NHL and for clubs. The NHL has lost sight of what is meaningful for outdoor games, and it’s taken the fun out of watching them, and the joy out of the anticipation for the games.