While all Washington Capitals fans were no doubt disappointed about last night’s 6-0 loss at Verizon Center to the New York Rangers, none may have been as devastated as my eight year old daughter. When my wife dropped me off at the Metro garage to retrieve my car, my daughter begged to ride home in my car. It was clear as day just how profoundly affected she had been.
“Why couldn’t they score just one eensy weensy teeny tiny little goal?” By the time we reached my car, I heard all of these questions, statements and more:
- “I know they won’t win every game, but just one goal.”
- “Isn’t that Alex Ovechkin’s job? Or Alex Semin’s?”
- “Even Nick Backstrom! He didn’t take any face-offs, so he should have been ready to score a goal.”
- “I mean, come-on!”
- “Know how bad it was? I wanted you and Mommy to turn the radio off in the car.”
- “And, Daddy, when was the last time they scored a power play goal at home?”
I. Had. No. Answer.
I reminded her that she had fun. That the CSN camera guy shot her again during warmups and the kids at school will probably soon fawn all over her again asking how she got to be on TV. I reminded her how she got to ride the zamboni on her birthday last year and was also given a puck during warmups at that game. I reminded her how she’s been able to meet most of her favorite players, get their autographs, and Backstrom (her favorite) smiled at her.
While at this point in the season, many of us old enough to have children of our own have probably entered a state of resignation that the good old days that ran from Thanksgiving 2007 through the end of the regular season last spring are gone for now, but still hold hope for the post-season knowing that success there will make the regular season of 10/11 worthwhile.
My daughter knows this at some level. She explained how it’s more important that the Capitals win in the playoffs than any single regular season game. “But the playoffs are hard. If they can’t win now…” her words trailed off. I don’t know if she has really understands what it means, though.
She reminded me of the purity of a child’s experience at a sporting event. When paying attention to the game (instead of playing games on an iPod during a boring stretch), it’s all so immediate and consuming while I sit there in games like last night’s just feeling the hope for the evening drain and just wait for it to be over. It does not seem like it was almost three years ago when I took her to her second hockey game…Game 2 against the Flyers in April 08 and she screamed her throat raw in both “Let’s go Caps!” and “Flyers Suck!” chants.
It was tough to watch her go through this last night, but this is how children form bonds with their teams. I wasn’t much older than her when my dad took me to Game 1 of the 1979 World Series. There are four things I remember about that game:
- The rain.
- Thinking my dad was going to get in a fight when he was pelted in the face with peanuts thrown by a guy a few rows in front of us who would not put down his umbrella and many people around us were tossing peanuts on him.
- The Orioles losing that game.
- Three dozen parking tickets on his car’s windshield after the game.
But I remember and those memories are indelible. While I don’t pay a lot of attention to baseball these days, I still keep a small look on the Orioles out of the corner of my eye. Someday, my daughter will remember this, too, and she will be better for it.
In other news, my six year old daughter apparently got herself engaged to a seven year old Rangers fan sitting in the row behind us in the third period. Yeah. It was that kind of night.