Fans are, by nature, irrational. We believe that teams exist solely for our entertainment, our appeasement, our criticism, our praise, our wish fulfillment. This is an undeniable part of fandom, and that’s often what makes our emotional investment in a particular team seem worthwhile.
(Or, at times, seem like a wasted effort.)
New York Islanders fans are, by nature, the embodiment of that die-hard fan culture. Which is either a blessing or a curse—or both—depending on your point of view.
There’s never a higher high—unless meth is your thing, in which case, definitely kick that habit—than when the Islanders score a big goal, and it’s the lowest of lows when the Isles suffer a tough loss.
I get it. I’ve been there. Take last night’s 4-3 shootout loss to the (now 1-6-1) Buffalo Sabres as a prime example of how the term “stomach punch” doesn’t even begin to describe how it feels to watch your team literally give a game away.
I’m as guilty as anyone of irrationally investing myself on a near-nightly basis in the outcome of a game played by strangers for profit in a different city. And I’m not saying that I don’t go nuts when the Islanders win or don’t get upset when they lose.
But, the ongoing dumpster fire that is #IslesTwitter after a short losing streak (or a single-game loss, or a bad period, or a neutral-zone turnover) often showcases irrationality in a manner that makes me question whether logic and reason are on the radar of the Isles’ most vocal detractors at all.
To date, the Islanders have played six of the 82 games that make up their 2013-14 NHL season. Some quick mental math—OK, I used a calculator because math—shows us that those six games account for 7.3 percent of the regular-season schedule.
In the NFL, that percentage would be the rough equivalent of 1.17 games. And according to the logic being employed by the sky-is-falling Isles fans, the fan bases of roughly half of the teams in the league should’ve been calling for their respective coaches and general managers to be fired because their teams lost in Week 1.
That all seems a bit hasty, at least for my taste. But I digress…
Sure, there are lineup decisions that Isles fans can question. There are player usage stats that can be debated. Advanced metrics indicate the team doesn’t possess the puck enough. And at times, the energy level of the team on the ice is cause for concern.
But should any or all of these factors be reason enough to have Jack Capuano canned? Or reason enough to give Evgeni Nabokov his walking papers? Or to stage a fire sale and gut the roster? Or to bail on this team as a fan? Absolutely not.
In the interest of self-preservation, the counterpoint:
Let’s get one thing straight; being upset and concerned about your team does not make you a bad fan. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up.
— Isles Nation (@NYIslesNation) October 16, 2013
The @NYIslesNation account is right: Being upset about your team’s performance isn’t grounds to have your fan membership revoked. I’m not saying that constructive criticism isn’t warranted at times. Hell, yell at the TV if you need to get something off your chest. (Better yet, yell in the comments section below.)
But being upset to the degree where you demand coaches be fired, players be traded and owners sell the team is the equivalent of setting your house on fire because you don’t like the wallpaper in your kitchen.
Let’s all relax and remember: The NHL is playing a full 82-game season this year. (Novel concept, I know.) There’s still plenty of time for the Islanders to right the ship, which many of their fans believe they will.
Even if Twitter would tell you otherwise.
Agree? Disagree? Is this kind of reaction to poor team performance inevitable in this age of instant reactions and real-time opinions? Tell me about it on the Twitter (@MichaelWillhoft). I’ll be the guy not stocking a fallout shelter for the (apparently impending) Islanders apocalypse.