Too Much Hockey

I think I might have a lawsuit brewing that will rival those against the tobacco industry. You see, I can't stop watching hockey. And it's completely due to the irresponsibility of the satellite television industry.

First some background. I've always loved watching hockey. I'll watch almost any game. The teams don't really matter to me because I just love the sport and don't really have to be rooting for any team in particular to enjoy it. The only requirement is that the teams not have a boring style of play, which thankfully is very rare now that the NHL has improved the game's offense with the strict calling of penalties this year. Until recently, I was only able to watch San Jose Sharks games and the one game a week on ESPN. Then, for this season, I got the DISH network, mostly just to get ESPN2 which would give me a game about every 3 days, and then a bunch more near the end of the season and in playoffs. Ironically, just after I got the dish installed, the cable company finally got around to offering ESPN2 on digital cable, but I was still happy with the switch since the dish also has my all-time favorite channel VH1 Classic. But I'm getting away from the story here.

So, I'm satisfied with my amount of hockey I'm going to be getting from local broadcasts and the two ESPNs. Then, about a week into the season, I'm flipping through the channel guide one night and I see all these NHL games listed. They were all over because it was late at night, but I was intrigued. Was this a mistake? Was I hallucinating from something in the cheap gin comprising my evening cocktail? I knew that the DISH had no deal with the NHL to carry the games because their web site had said so. I went to the web site to check it out. No mention of the NHL Center Ice package being available. Then I went to the channel guide online and there were no games listed. So, I forgot about it for the night.

The next day, I flip the channels again and see the NHL games on the guide. This time, it's earlier, so I press the button to watch the channel and it says I have to call this number to subscribe. So, I do. It's sort of expensive, but as I've always wanted to have the ultimate hockey viewing capability, I figure I can't back down now, even for the $159 asking price. After all, the lady tells me that there's over 1000 games for the season that I will have the freedom to watch. I am too big a person to point out that one cannot watch 10 games at one time, which is the case much of the time, so that even if I dedicated my entire life to watching hockey, I would not be able to watch all 1000 games unless I got multiple dishes, receivers, and TVs, and also probably some permits since I would now be operating a sports bar in my apartment. But I get her point. There's a lot of games on and that is what I want.

Now, initially, I figured the way it would work would be that when I felt like watching hockey, there would most always be a game on for me to watch. The other times, I would do my normal activities, reading the great classics, writing my soon-to-be published play, and origami. Now, this might be what happens, but right now, that's not the way it is working. Granted it is early, but this early indication is not promising. I'll get to the brutal statistics now.

Today, Saturday October 19, 2002, I, watched hockey for the better part of 12 hours. From 10am till 10pm. And as I type this, I've got the NHL2Night recap show on the TV tuner on my computer. Actually, from about 12:30pm till 1:15pm, I did enjoy the nice weather with a walk to the store to do some grocery shopping. And from 3:30 to 4:00 I think there was a little break, too. But for the rest of the 11 hours or so, it was constant hockey. First up was Washington v. Philly, which was great. The Capitals announcer was by far my favorite and I expect to check out more of their games, just to hear him announce, in addition to the fact that they have Jagr and a pretty fun team to watch. This was then followed by San Jose v. Colorado, which was an OK game, but the Sharks lost which was bad. Then, after the 30 minute break, it was mayhem. About 8 games starting at 4, 4:30, and 5. Some great matches. I started out with Phoenix v. Buffalo, and that was a great game. But I gravitated to the Montreal v. Toronto match up, the main "Hockey Night in Canada" event and was some of the best hockey action I have ever seen. That game ended in a tie. There were a ton of overtime games and close games throughout the day. Plus, whenever there was an intermission, there were another 8 games to watch so there was not a second of time that I was not viewing hockey from 4-10pm. In fact, it got so after every stoppage of play, I was switching to another game because I couldn't go the 20 seconds it took to do the face-off without seeing action. Then you had your overlap games so when the 4pm games ended, you watch the end of the 4:30 games, then when those are done, the end of the 5pm games. Of course, the end of the 5pm games ran into the 7pm and 7:30 game, Edmonton v. Boston and Vancouver v. LA. The Boston game, the second half of the doubleheader for Hockey Night in Canada, was one I was interested in and it proved to be outstanding. The LA game, was really dull but fortunately got very exciting at the end, which was good because since the Boston game ended first, this is when I was watching it solely as the last hockey game of the night on the continent.

I have to say, I loved seeing all the hockey in this day. The different announcers were cool and I loved the Hockey Night in Canada intermission guys. The games really were great. But I have to say, I can't recall who won what that well. There was just too much. Also, I'm sort of in a daze from so much TV viewing. Thankfully, the Raiders are blacked out of TV, so at least tomorrow won't be another 10 hour TV sports day. But that's assuming I don't throw any more hockey (only 2 games on in the NHL thankfully) into the mix to go with the football and baseball.

Another thing with this hockey madness is that there were so many good games on at once, it caused me great anxiety because I wanted to watch them all. So I'm flipping constantly. Because I can't decide which game to watch, I attempt to watch them all and then I don't even know what game I'm looking at after a while. I end up missing goals on the game I think I should have been dedicating my full attention to and this causes regret and shame for being too greedy in trying cram more hockey into my brain than a normal person requires.

So, back to my opening statement, I think there is a lawsuit that could be made against the satellite companies for allowing one to view so many games. They should be responsible and put a limit on the amount of hockey viewing in one household. At the least, they need to put a Surgeon General type warning before all the games that you are wasting a nice day outside to sit like a lump on the couch eating cheez-its all day watching guys slap around a piece of rubber. Now, hopefully, this initial weekend of hockey Nirvana will work itself out and I'll get the fever out of my system. I think probably my brain will realizes that hockey is not this rare commodity any more and that I don't have to see every single possible game. It was that way before when there was only a couple games a week on. Then, I did feel like I needed to see every game that was available to me. But now, using that criteria would destroy the retinas in my eyes from television UV exposure. Nevertheless, if I become a shut in, doing nothing all day for fear of missing a great game, I will have to pursue the satellite people for gross negligence in allowing me too much hockey for my own good.

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