Hockey doesn’t draw everyone

PREFERENCE Some find other ways to spend game night.

Students cheer at a UND men’s hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. File photo.

On hockey nights, I stay home and read a book.

As a super-senior at UND, it may seem safe to assume I’ve been to many hockey games. After all, UND is all about hockey.

Just look at the Ralph Englestad Arena. It’s a shrine to the game and to UND’s teams. It seems that hockey games at UND are a bit of a rite of passage for students. When I reveal I have never been to a hockey game at UND, I am met with shock, disbelief and sometimes even disgust.

“Are you not into school spirit?”

“Do you hate hockey?”

“Are you making a political statement about the nickname?”

“Are you the spawn of the devil or something?”

Here’s the thing — it’s none of the above. I’m proud to go to UND, so it isn’t a lack of school spirit. I don’t dislike hockey, though it is far from my favorite sport. Being for or against the nickname would not affect what sporting events I do or don’t go to. As for the spawn of the devil, well, I guess only my parents know the answer to that.

I don’t go to hockey games for a very simple reason: I don’t like crowds. I especially dislike mob-mentality. The idea of being stuck in a loud, crowded, sweaty mass is not only an unattractive way to spend an evening, it’s a bit disgusting.

I really like some sporting events, baseball especially. But all of my experiences with baseball don’t involve sacrificing my personal space or hygiene. I was able to maintain a personal bubble at the Twins games I’ve attended. The same goes for football. Granted, I haven’t been to a football game since high school, so that could be some of it.

I really like my personal space. If I don’t know you, don’t touch me. It’s a pretty understandable rule. But when I’m forced into a place that has been proven to me through friends’ stories and pictures to pop the personal-space bubble, I can guarantee you that I will not enjoy myself.

The perfect example of this happening in real life is the bars on holidays. I enjoy going out on Halloween, but I do not enjoy fighting through masses of sweaty bodies just to get an overpriced drink. The same goes for hockey. I do not want to be near the sweating, throbbing masses of people just to watch a game I don’t really enjoy.

I don’t watch the games on TV either. There is an atmosphere to sporting events that I need in order to enjoy it. To bring it back to baseball, think of all the sensory experiences you find at a baseball field: the smell of hot dogs, the noise of the crowd, the pain from the bright lights, the allergies the grass aggravates. We can’t find this in our living rooms, no matter how hard we try. To enjoy watching a sport, I need the multi-sensory experience. I spend my days reading or typing. My mind and eyes get plenty of work; watching a game on TV would not give me what I need.

I’m not trying to bash hockey fans. If hockey is your thing, by all means enjoy it. If you enjoy being packed into the Ralph like sardines, I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong. I also understand that choosing to attend can be used to make a statement, what ever that may be. I’m not trying to make a statement by avoiding hockey. I’m simply trying to spend my time wisely by doing things I enjoy.

To quote a picture I have in my bedroom, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” I would be wasting time going to an event — whose inherent purpose is enjoyment — I would not enjoy. The same goes for a hockey fan who dislikes staying in on Friday nights. He would be wasting his time just as much as I would be at a hockey game. It is all relative.

Maybe one day a friend will convince me to go, but until then, I’ll continue reading my books on game nights.

Kjerstine Trooien is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at