Hate the stress of hockey? Give lacrosse a try

**Note: Also appears on the Calgary Herald’s Q Blog

Reginald Tiangha – Last night, a friend treated me to a Calgary Roughnecks game.

This was the second lacrosse game I had ever attended. My first was on Fan Appreciation Night when the Roughnecks organization essentially gave away a free tickets in order to show their gratitude to existing Roughnecks fans, and to attract new fans. Judging by the sheer number who indicated that it was indeed their first game, it was a great success.

For last night’s game against the Edmonton Rush, there was an interesting battle going on behind the scenes.

Edmonton Rush owner, Bruce Urban, was offering to give free tickets to any Edmonton Rush fan who would make the trip to Calgary. He went so far as to call Calgary Roughnecks owner Brad Banister to give him a heads up that he would be bulk-buying a bunch of tickets, hoping that 4,000 would make the trip down and invade the Saddledome, wear black (the Rush’s team colours), and be loud and proud.

Banister, while willing to take money from anyone, felt confident that Calgarians would step up to the plate and drown out the smear of black.

The challenge was issued, and accepted.

All in all, there were about 13,000 fans in attendance, with about 800 of them being Rush fans. It was a fun evening, with, and I hate to admit it, 800 fans drowning out the other 12,000 at times.

However, the tables quickly turned as the Roughnecks dominated the Rush, decisively winning the game by a score of 18-7. By the end of the game, the fans were on their feet cheering their beloved Roughnecks to victory.

I’ve got to hand it to Roughnecks fans: they are very passionate about their team. In fact, lacrosse fans are some of the most passionate fans of any sport that I’ve ever met.

Still, I’m a guy that likes to follow the home team’s standings. I like to know how they’re doing in relation to the others and what our chances are to make the finals. As I don’t regularly follow the NLL, I decided to ask some fans around me about how we’re doing.

Keep in mind that I was lucky to be put in a section surrounded by passionate fans. Decked out in jerseys and t-shirts, they attend home games any time they can, usually bringing their children or anyone else who wants to come.

So I was very surprised when not a single person could tell me how we were doing.

They all had the same response: They love the game, they love watching it, they come at every opportunity, but they don’t follow the standings and couldn’t even say if we were in a position to make the playoffs.

Which brings me to the thing I love most about Roughnecks fans: They don’t care about scores. They don’t stress about standings and math. To them, it’s just a game that can be enjoyed and a team to be cheered.

There are some valuable lessons that can be learned from fans of lacrosse. So often, we fans tend to stress over every single game, whether we win or lose, whether or not we’ll make the playoffs. When we lose, we tend to lynch anyone and everyone remotely related to the cause. We’ll shine the spotlight on the players, coaches, managers, even the media. Sometimes we get so caught up in the fervor that we start to lose perspective.

Because at the end of the day, it’s just a game.

And lacrosse fans understand that.

It’s a different approach; for instance, the audience participation. When the opposition takes a shot that’s stopped by the goalie, the interplay goes something like this: Announcer – “What does he have?” Audience – “NOTHING!” I especially like how the announcer disrespects the opposition at every opportunity.

I like the fact that the players aren’t paid very much, and they just play because they love the sport. In fact, they make themselves available on the field after the game for autographs. Anyone can go down after the game and chat it up with the players. Affordable tickets are very appealing as well.

It’s a rough game. People getting whacked in the head with sticks, lots of pushing and shoving; even the odd fight or three.

Oh, and the cheerleaders. The hot, HOT cheerleaders.

The next (and final) Roughnecks home game of the season is Saturday April 19 against the Toronto Rock. If you have never been, go.

The prices are very reasonable (the section I was in would normally cost you $100 for a Flames game, but only cost about $24 for lacrosse and the organization regularly has promotions and sales so you can easily get a ticket for less than $20), and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.