Somewhere Gattis is smiling

Published 4:22 pm Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Somewhere, Gattis Hodges is smiling.

Many of you may know Gattis as the host of “Talkin’ Sports”, an ESPN affiliate show on WDLZ 98.3. It was on this show a few years back when Gattis “called me out” for talking junk about hockey.

It was during the NHL players strike that I wrote a column regarding my lack of understanding as to how a sport that is losing popularity every year could afford to upset it’s few remaining fans, all three of them, by taking a year off. Gattis apparently read my column and brought it up on his show.

See, I have been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. The first sport I ever played was soccer (I had two older brothers that played, both were much better than me) and I fell in love immediately.

I didn’t become a sports fan however until I started watching Carolina basketball. It began as a passion and at some point became an obsession. My love for football didn’t come until years later but when it hit it certainly stuck.

One sport I never could learn to appreciate though was hockey. Like most people in the south, I wasn’t exposed to the sport very often and am sure that had much to do with my lack of interest. When it did come on television, I simply didn’t know enough about it to follow the game.

I didn’t understand the rules, the puck was hard to track and the jargon was unlike any other sport I had been exposed to. Don’t get me wrong, the stick and puck were easy enough to figure out. You didn’t have to be brain scientist or rocket surgeon to grasp what those where. That however was about the extent of my knowledge.

According to the announcers, there was a lot of checking, boarding, charging, hooking and slashing going on during games. They sometimes did these things in a place called the crease. I looked multiple times but never once saw a crease on the ice. I didn’t understand how anyone could comprehend, nevertheless enjoy this sport.

My feelings for hockey did not change until last season, about the same time I began dating a young lady from north-west Ohio. Apparently, people up north not only like hockey but take it seriously. She is no exception.

It wasn’t long before I found myself in front of the television, in an effort to spend time with her during the playoffs, subjected to hours upon hours of the sport I had previously made so much fun of.

To be honest, I continued to make of it until something crazy happened. I began to understand what I was watching. After a few games I noticed that the flow was very similar to soccer, a sport I knew well. I still had to ask about some of the terminology but as her beloved Red Wings played deeper into the playoffs I found myself enjoying the sport more and more.

By the time the Stanley Cup Finals began, I was officially a fan. I was yelling at the television, booing Sidney Crosby (the kid has skills though) and raving about Chris Osgood and his value as a goalie (Dominik who?). Hockey season has returned and the Red Wings will once again be a fixture in our home. This year however, I’m not only ok with it…I’m kinda looking forward to it.

Go ahead and smile Gattis…I know you want to.

I’d like to hear from you. If you agree or disagree with my opinion on something, have an idea for a column topic or just want to let me know someone is reading this every once in awhile please e-mail me. My address is