According to Glenn – Game 7s
There’s nothing like hockey in May … except hockey in June.
Although it’s been three decades since all but one of my allegiances became everything Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts and New England, I still bleed a shade of blue that only exists for a hockey team that plays on Broadway (well, Seventh Avenue, actually). My disappointment as I write this (on a May 29 flight from San Diego to Boston) is likely exceeded in the Valley only by what was felt by a player from Boxford who wears number 20 on his jersey for that team, and by his family and friends.
“Game 7, what does that mean?” my sister Adrienne asked as I blurted a selection of alleged curse words when this particular Game 7 turned in an unwanted direction as I watched on my iPad while sitting with my family in the backyard of said sister’s incredible house in the Mission Hills section of San Diego a few hours before our flight home. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and say something nasty in my irritated state, since “A” and her wife, Joan, had been our gracious hosts for a week. As our clan says, the A&J B&B is the best deal in S.D., but you have to be family to stay (and we’re glad we’re family). Thankfully, Joan explained to the inquisitor what a Game 7 was, something my artfully-inclined sister was apparently blissfully unaware of prior to the explanation.
As I tried to sleep on the Airbus A320, it occurred to me that maybe sports fans love/hate a Game 7 because it presents that do-or-die drama that plays out regularly for most of us as we go about our lives. But the games we watch are just that, games. It’s not real for us unless we actually play on the team, or have a family member who does. We feel elation when we win (we are all part of the teams we support, aren’t we?). And we suffer the “pain” of every loss. Yet there are no genuine consequences for us as fans either way.
Yet I can’t even read about the teams I root for when they tank, and as much as we’ve been spoiled in New England over the past decade-plus with winning teams, we’ve also had to endure some crushing losses. Super Bowls XLII and XLVI come to mind, as does the Bruins’ difficult Game 6 loss a few years ago at the hands of the team from that city with shitty pizza. That team won its Game 7 this year and then won the oldest sports trophy in North America in June (that would be Lord Stanley of Preston’s Cup, first awarded in 1893). But our involvement still isn’t real; it’s this safe place we imagine we go and triumph when things go our teams’ way, or suffer a pain that really doesn’t hurt when they fail. It’s very unlike our real lives, in which we all play many Game 7s and actually have to live with the consequences of each outcome.
So even though I’m a little pissed that my Rangers didn’t get to play in June, I’m glad they played until the end of May, and everything is still all good with my family, my friends and my business. What the hell else could I really ask for? OK, one more Stanley Cup for the boys in blue before I leave this rock, but only if all the important stuff in my life is OK, because it’s all of those Game 7s that matter most to me.
Glenn J. Prezzano is the president of 512 Media Inc., founder and publisher of Merrimack Valley Magazine, Merrimack Valley Home and book publisher Merrimack Press. You may talk back to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.