We should probably have worked this out before the wedding...
Last Saturday the Vancouver Canucks retired former player Markus Naslund’s jersey (meaning a banner with his name and number will hang from the rafters and no other Canuck player will ever wear his number). I watched the ceremony on TV and have to say, I was moved. My husband, however, could not let me enjoy the moment and instead launched into a diatribe about how Naslund did not deserve to have his number retired and how the Canucks as an organization have lost his respect (though I’m not sure they were looking for it).
The episode reminded me of a revelation I had about ardent sports fans a few months ago when my dear friend Chris was in town. Although Chris and I disagree about many many things, our love for the Canucks always gives us something to stand together on. My husband, however, is a Montreal Canadiens fan, and while I have largely learned to tune him out when he talks about his beloved bleu, blanc et rouge or makes fun of my team like he did the other night, Chris just can’t help himself and has to get into it with him. Listening to the two argue (endlessly) that night, I came to some conclusions about the nature of fandom for certain people.
When I was little my parents owned a book called How to Win an Argument. I remember one of the things it said straight up was not to argue with people about matters of faith, because they are always holding a trump card.
Arguing about hockey with my guy (who would probably claim a level of devotion to his team similar to a religious experience) falls into the same trap. No matter what path the argument takes, he can always fall back on the “history” of the team. No team will ever be as good as the Habs or as worthy of supporting because 1) they’ve been around the longest and 2) they have won the most Stanley Cups.
Now I am not going to say that those aren’t valid reasons to love a team. But since even when my team has been around for a hundred years the Habs will have been here for 140, and since the chances of another team being able to rack up the hardware like the Habs could in the pre-expansion era is slim, those arguments are impossible to respond to. Stating a fact that you can’t argue with like “We have the most history” and then resting your case on that is akin to saying “Because I have faith” in a debate on the existence of God. Watching Chris and my husband endlessly circle around in debate with no possibility of a shared middle ground reminded me why when my husband and I talk hockey, it’s mostly to diss the Leafs. At least that sorry franchise is something everyone can agree upon.
So if you have people like this in your life, be they spouses, coworkers or friends, do your best not to engage them. It’s exhausting and only leads to marital discord/an uncomfortable work environment/a streetfight.