When I was growing up in a small town in Ohio, there were really only two sports for most kids, and three for some. Baseball, as I remember it, was king. If a boy was going to play a sport, it was probably baseball. Football, of course, was there as well, but not so popular as baseball. The success of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team vs football’s Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns may or may not have something to do with that, I honestly don’t know. Finally, every playground had a basketball court. For whatever reason, though, despite being well over six feet tall I never developed even a modicum of skill with that sport.
The odd thing is, though, that Dayton actually had a professional sports team: The Dayton Gems, a professional hockey organization. I didn’t make it to a lot of games, but enough to have an awareness. I can explain baseball’s infield fly rule, but hockey has always been a mystery to me.
I haven’t been to a professional baseball game in years, I’ve only been to one professional football game in my life, and I’ve never been to a professional basketball game. Now that I live in the deep south, what kind of sporting event did I go to last night with my daughter? You guessed it: A hockey game.
Huntsville, Alabama, loves its hockey. Really. The local team, the Huntsville Havoc, draws nearly 5,000 fans a game, well above the league average (the Southern Professional Hockey League). As is often times the case with “minor league teams,” the play itself is only a part of the attraction. The music, the promotions, the mascots, the hometown kitsch, and the funnel cakes are a big part of the experience.
I’m looking forward to the community having a minor league baseball team in a few years, but for now, it’s the hockey rink, especially if my daughter wants to go.
The snacks? My treat.