In the spirit of personal growth and persistent self-abuse, one of the non-obligatory obligations I decided to adopt this year was writing an almost daily blog on the New York Islanders of the NHL.
It’s hosted on an already existing “network” of sports blogs started and run by some college students and recent grads. Rough on the edges, they, but young and ambitious, too. For me, it was easier and imposed more obligation — which I wanted — than setting up my own standalone blog. Though as a “business,” it won’t allow me to do the amateur-blogging practice of borrowing images from other sites … so I have no fancy action photos to go with the copy. Alas.
My chief motive was to try a different kind of writing — an almost daily obligation that sticks more or less to one topic vs. the higher ed or blog-topic of the moment I typically do. I want to reach my writing capacity to get a sense of what works best, routine-wise, if I want to drop everything and focus on creative writing.
But I’m also motivated by an unnatural affection for the Islanders.
As NHL teams go, the Islanders are not particularly sexy and haven’t been so for 20 years. Which of course means that, as far as North American professional sports teams go, they are really not particularly sexy.
(A fitting illustration of where the Islanders stand, image-wise, in the sports landscape, may be seen by the photo used to illustrate this Onion story, aptly titled “Walking Sports Database Scorns Walking Sci-Fi Database.”)
The Islanders had glorious “dynasty” years when they won the first four Stanley Cups of the 1980s. Those were my formative hockey years and explain my curious thousand-miles-away addiction to them. They were on TV, winning Cups, and having more of their players featured on hockey cards than other teams. They had a pleasing color scheme. They were from Long Island, as opposed to what my father called the “Short Island Smurfs” (Rangers) on Manhattan.
But after that, their stars retired and their support was eroded by a series of laughably bad owners — one of whom didn’t even have the money he used to “buy” the team. They’re still trying to recover from that, and they’re doing a decent job, when you exclude the other socio-economic-taste factors that affect the NHL.
See, the NHL has a media coverage and popularity problem, but I don’t care. As with voting, the more people who feel compelled to get involved, the more uninformed yahoos end up dominating the conversation. So I am happy with hockey being a quasi-niche sport, and with my having to search out decent coverage of it.
Part of the NHL’s antidote to its coverage problem is to tap into online-savvy fans — “the next generation” — and some teams, like the Islanders, have even offered press-like access to bloggers for coach and player interviews. At 1,000 miles away, I’m not part of that, but I thought it would be fun to track and synthesize the best of the bloggers who are. And shed a little tiny bit of cyber-light on a team that could use some more love.