The Ice Bowl

Photo from Yahoo Sports

I just got home, and I haven’t read or watched any coverage about the Ice Bowl. I have no idea what the event looked like on television, and I have no idea if the game was any fun for the people watching in their homes.

As a person in the stands, the Ice Bowl was incredible. I’ve never in my life been a part of such a large crowd of positive energy, and I’m not sure that I ever will again. I am so proud of Buffalo today. We were cold, wet, inundated by the elements, and locked in a slow moving game, but the crowd just got louder, happier, and more enthusiastic. No one left before the end. Although the loss was hard, with every passing minute after Sid’s shootout victory, my disappointment with the end result dulled, and my gratefulness for having been a part of the day grew.

I felt honest camaraderie with the Penguins fans, and as we were walking out, I actually commented to Robin that I was happy for them. I didn’t see a single instance of genuine disturbance between the two fan bases. From my perspective, the crowd was pretty united in its giddy appreciation of the event. I hope the Penguins fans enjoyed the day as much as I did. (It’s probably safe to say they enjoyed it even more than me.)

I have read a lot of arguments for and against a gimmicky outdoor game like the Ice Bowl. Oh, it was gimmicky alright, but the gimmick was pretty spectacular in person. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with using a gimmick to generate a little buzz from time to time. Even if the whole thing was a bust on television, I can’t imagine that this game was harmful for the NHL, and beyond that, I don’t really care to think too hard about the “success” of the Winter Classic. I’m just happy I was there. This game was undeniably wonderful for Buffalo, and what’s good for Buffalo, is good for me.

In the end, the game was not about the game, but instead it was about a community of hockey fans, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I love that, actually. Sabres fandom is all about community, and that’s what drew me to hockey in the first place. In a very fundamental way, hockey is what taught me how to reach out and embrace my community, and this game felt like the entire city of Buffalo embracing me back. For all of the cheesiness and the manufactured nostalgia surrounding the Ice Bowl, the end result really did speak to a very childlike part of my personality- the part of me that doesn’t want to resist being swept up by a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Yeah, the game was a gimmick, but there is nothing artificial about the joy it created in me.



19 Responses to “The Ice Bowl”

  1. 1 Meg January 1, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    ::Pommerdoodles all over Kate’s comments:: I totally agree with everything you said in this post. It was just a great experience being there and getting to be part of that crowd. Even if it was a gimmick, it was a gimmick that brought an awful lot of pleasure.

  2. 2 Gambler January 1, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, Kate. It was a truly wonderful experience, and one that I’ll remember for a long time. I definitely think it needs to happen again. If not in Buffalo, then somewhere.

    No one left before the end

    Except for the three Sabres fans sitting next to me, who left at the end of regulation. Seriously?! Come on! I’m glad now that I resisted the urge to compliment the one guy on his excellent taste in jerseys (Hecht), since he didn’t deserve it.

    I felt honest camaraderie with the Penguins fans

    I got stuck waiting in the concourse for a bit after the game, and a Sabres fan there was high-fiving all the fans that passed, and telling all the Pens fans “Good job.” It was nice. I didn’t see any major conflicts, and all the ribbing and booing being passed between groups of fans seemed good-natured and all for fun. It was definitely a good atmosphere. I’m so grateful that I got to be there!

  3. 3 Heather B. January 1, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Kate, I’m so glad you had fun! Ragingly jealous and a little depressed, yes :-D but glad nonetheless!

  4. 4 Schnookie January 1, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I’m so glad it was so much fun! It definitely seemed like a great party for the fans, and made for a fun spectacle on TV. However, what’s all this about peace and harmony amongst the fans? There wasn’t even a little picture stomping? Not one vandalized mustachio on a program photo? What was wrong with you people?

    Seriously though, everyone involved in making the game today such a great display of community and fun should be proud of themselves. Nicely done, Ice Bowl goers!

  5. 5 Pookie January 1, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Katebits, I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time and that it was such a great embodiment of the community aspect of being a hockey fan and being a Buffalonian!

  6. 6 Katebits January 1, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Kate, I’m so glad you had fun! Ragingly jealous and a little depressed, yes :-D but glad nonetheless!

    Oh, Heather! This post is pure bullshit. The Ice Bowl was intolerable. I almost died from boredom.

  7. 7 Glenn January 1, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    My final analysis of the Ice Bowl is this:

    Buffalo IS Hockeytown, U.S.A……plain and simple!

  8. 8 Matt January 1, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    I guess I was just stuck in a bad section. That’s unfortunate. I so wanted it to be a majorly awesome bestest experience…

  9. 9 Dan January 2, 2008 at 12:06 am

    The broadcast came across OK on TV. It was definitely different than a regular game. The sightlines were much different from the regular broadcast and that made it feel different. That was to be expected.

    I get annoyed with NBC kissing Sid the Kid’s ass so much. He has been crowned King of the NHL and NBC never lets you forget this.

    The NHL got exactly what they wanted with this game. A sold out, crazy crowd. Weather complications. Sidney Crosby scoring the winning goal. The icing on the cake for the NHL was being able to highlight their recent rule changes for OT and the shoot out.

    All in all I did enjoy watching the game. It was fun. From home however it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch. Perhaps being there would have been like Kate described. I’m glad you guys had fun.

    I think the NHL really dropped the ball (puck??) with one aspect. The main sponsor for this game, AMP energy drink, is the new sponsor for NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. They should have promoted him being there to drive the Zamboni. The ratings would have been through the roof.

  10. 10 Sam January 2, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Buffalo IS Hockeytown, U.S.A……plain and simple!

    You aren’t, but we won’t press the point for today. That was some cool shit to watch. Nice showing, bflo…


  11. 11 Dan January 2, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Glenn –

    I don’t disagree with your thoughts on Buffalo being Hockeytown now, but I think the main thing missing is at least one Stanley Cup. At this point, Detroit is not even consistently selling out games. They had some run of 15 years or something of selling out all of their games.

    If my memory is correct, I think there were some playoff games last year that didn’t even sell. Being a native Michigander and a life-long Red Wings fan (as well as die-hard Sabres fan now) I think I am seeing the deplorable Michigan economy finally catching up with things like this.

    However, the Red Wings still have 10 Stanley Cups, the most of any US team. Then again, the title of Hockeytown was self-appointed so who really knows.

  12. 12 Katebits January 2, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Hi, Daneroni! You are so right that Dale Earnhart Jr. should have driven the zamboni! I don’t care two sniffs about racing, but even I think that’s a good idea.

  13. 13 Mags January 2, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I am so. painfully. jealous. But I’m glad you had a good time :D

  14. 14 Shari January 2, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Here we thought wathching the game on TV in our nice warm living
    room would be so much better. Wrong. What dissapointing coverage
    all around. A little Sid talk was expected but it just wouldn’t stop!! A friend watching the game with us predicted in the second period just what happened. Shootout, Sid with the winning goal.
    The camera followed him everywhere! What about our guys? It was all about THEM! I wasn’t even upset the Sabres lost. It was just that I was so excited, like a little kid before Christmas and I guess I just wasn’t expecting The Sidney Crosby Show. It was very disapointing and very pathetic. BUT, Im glad you all there had a good time and everyone was on their best behavior. Truley, I really mean that. I shoulda watched CBC. On the other hand, we should have known better. The Sabres did a great job and I’m proud of them.

  15. 15 Pensgirl January 2, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with using a gimmick to generate a little buzz from time to time.

    Whenever I heard the “but it’s a gimmick” line, I just thought “So?” If it’s fun, who cares?

    So glad you had fun. Your experience is what I expected to hear and part of the reason I wanted to go so much (put it in Philly and I’d leave Baltimore for the day just to be further away!). It’s good to know it was everything it should have been, atmosphere-wise.

    Yeah, the game was a gimmick, but there is nothing artificial about the joy it created in me.

    And that’s what it’s all about. :)

  16. 16 Sandi January 3, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I was watching it on TV, since I am in Florida. I thought it was still great to watch. It was great for Buffalo and all hockey fans in general=) I think it did do some good for the NHL since we are not on ESPN anymore and we need something more.

    I totally wish I was there though! I do miss some snow and cold probably because I am originally from New Jersey=)

  17. 17 Shoemu July 15, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    The Ice Bowl was played in Green Bay Wisconsin on Dec. 31, 1967

  1. 1 Winter Classic Roundup at Trackback on January 2, 2008 at 10:13 am
  2. 2 The True Story of How the Ice Bowl Sucked Ass « The Willful Caboose Trackback on January 2, 2008 at 10:38 pm

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