I’m Not Really Excited for the Season to Start, and That Sucks

So the season is right around the corner. We’re about to get on the months-long carousel of morning skates and post-game press conferences, and for the first time that I can remember, I don’t really care that much.

Before I get into more about why that is, I figure I’ll be qualifying a lot of what I say if I don’t do it up front. One of my favorite sayings around this site is “don’t tell other people how to fan.” So, I guess I’ll just make it clear from the beginning that this article is just me sharing how I’m feeling. I’m not saying other people should feel the same way or anyone should feel bad for being excited about the season.

Basically, I feel the same way I did when the NHL came back last season after the COVID-19 induced hiatus. While I normally enjoy the game of hockey quite a bit, so much so that I’ve spent a large amount of time the last few years writing about the game and talking about it on podcasts, I can’t shake the feeling “this shouldn’t be happening.”

While I understand the argument people make that entertainment is valuable to a society, It’s hard for me to agree that the benefit of playing hockey as entertainment outweighs the cost to society of resources like testing kits (as well as the resources to run the tests) that could be better used for front line workers and people that have to go to work to survive.

I started writing this article before news came out last night that SEVENTEEN of the Dallas Stars players have tested positive for COVID during training camp.

Yes, according to the NHL, many of them are asymptomatic, but we now know that people can develop negative, long-term symptoms down the road from an infection. It’s not implausible that one or more players will have their career cut short because of complications from COVID developed during this NHL season.

Yes, I and others raised these issues before the resumption of last season, and the bubble worked. But we don’t have a bubble anymore. We’ve seen what happened in other major sports when they play without the confines of a strict bubble.

While that’s part of the reason I’m not nearly as interested as I usually am, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s not more than that.

We’ve all had our lives profoundly changed in the last 10 months, some more than others. Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID, and the combination of losing someone and not being able to say goodbye or having a regular funeral service takes a great mental toll.

Some have grown numb to it, but the fact that in the US 4,000 people are dying a day from COVID is devastating. Yet, this is something that is now normalized. We’ve adapted to more people dying every day from this virus than we did in the 9/11 attacks, but it’s taken a great toll on may of us. I know from talking to friends that I’m not alone in feeling like there’s a general level of anxiety and awfulness that is just now part of our everyday lives.

Add to that the steady stream of terrible stories awaiting you every day you open your news app (or newspaper), and it becomes hard for me to really care about hockey. While sports have always been a source of entertainment and distraction, is it right to distract oneself when important things are happening?

Once again, I’m not claiming that my feelings are better than others. I’m genuinely happy that many people are looking forward to hockey more than I. Nobody would be reading this if that weren’t the case, right?

I partially wrote this because I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and I have come to value honesty and openness above all in my own life. Part of it is an attempt to try to crystallize why I feel this way through the process of writing. Part of it is because I’m guessing that other people feel this way, and I want you to know you’re not alone.

In a strange way, the last year or so has brought me around to a way of looking at sports that I’ve always considered to be something people joke about.

I’m partially joking myself because even with everything I said earlier, I do care. I want Detroit to win. I want the young players to take huge steps forward. But if those things don’t happen, it’s not that important. It’s just a game. A game that I hope to start enjoying more than I do right now.

How do you feel about the start of the season?