The New York Islanders: Why Do You Love Them So?


Feb 8, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders head coach

Jack Capuano

walks to the locker room after a game against the Colorado Avalanche at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Avalanche defeated the Islanders 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Ask yourself this question: Why root for the New York Islanders?

What is it about them that compels you to follow their every move each week? each month? each year?

With all the losing this organization has brought to the ice, season after season, why is it that fans, you, return to the Nassau Coliseum, or turn on your TV screens to watch them? And to those who’ve walked away, but won’t admit it: you know that every now and again you take a peek at the scoreboard, silently hoping for a winning record, and thus resume your place on the bandwagon.

Why do fans who love this team, berate them so? Why do fans who love this team, defend them just as passionately?

Why does a losing team still have fans at all?

What is it that prevents fans from gravitating to other teams who would and could assuredly win a championship for them, and thereby validating whatever percentage of existence in need of validation?

The Islanders are a terrible team at the moment, and have been an awful team for quite some time, including last season. (Don’t kid yourself Islander fans: they made the playoffs with some much-needed help from the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.)

What is about your character traits that feeds off or relishes from experiencing Islander-esque hockey: are Isles fans masochistic? Slow? Blind?

Why do Isles fans then pass this tradition onto their family? Shouldn’t children, for example, root for a winner, a champion? Why have them inherit misery, if you will?

If this were a school assignment, in which teaching children the proper way of doing something–in this case win–is an imperative, then wouldn’t introducing them to a losing tradition being counter-intuitive to the aforementioned? Sort of like teaching them the wrong answers long enough, and then one day <poof> teach them the right one as a means of having that child truly ‘appreciate’ the meaning of ‘rightness’.

For the older Islander fan, do you chalk up the love or following to nostalgia? Isn’t that a dangerous way to tread through life? Living in the past, paying little attention to the present, and thus losing sight of the future?

So what is it about the Islanders that moves you? Is it that you need a punching bag of sorts? A scapegoat to unleash your pent up frustrations with your own life, and thereby venting on social media about how terrible your team is playing–a form of decompression that all-the-time points away from your own life’s shortcomings and anxieties?

What makes an Islander fan who he or she is?

Maybe it’s this:

  • working with what you’ve got and toughing it out
  • deluding yourself enough so that you can accomplish anything with grit and determination, and then succeeding, and then failing, and then succeeding, and then starting the cycle over again, ad infinitum
  • convincing yourself that Man is in charge of his own fate, and that tradition is nothing more than a receptacle for that which should remain inside of us: our power to overcome and to achieve
  • learning that talent isn’t enough; that luck has something to do with it
  • succumbing to the notion that the sun doesn’t shine equally on all and that isn’t reason enough to quit…ever
  • embracing the notion that one must love the process over the product–that it’s all about how one gets to the championship moment more than the championship moment itself

No rationalization here.

Rooting for the Islanders says much about your personality and views on life.

No, it doesn’t signify that you’re a loser or accept losing as a state of being.

But it may very well have to do with how you go about defining words like “love” “respect” “fortitude” and “courage.”

You think it’s easy for guys like Matt Martin or Kyle Okposo or John Tavares to lose? Think about their hard work and how it doesn’t pay off.

Imagine if the aforementioned applied to your own life? Sound familiar maybe? A crummy job that requires your all, and even after you give it, you take home a lousy paycheck, or worse, take home a lofty one and feel just as empty.

Maybe ask yourself why players like Tavares want to stay in a place where losing is a reality that doesn’t loosen its grip.

Thank them for their efforts and feel for them when they lose. But understand that effort goes unrewarded on and off the ice all the time.

If you scorn them for their failures, then surely you’re scorning yourself somehow. Or maybe you’ll vehemently disagree, for as a paying customer you demand success and a return for your investment. Which goes back the original question: why not go elsewhere? root for someone else? why are you still here?

Just ask yourself why you love this team, or why they force you into disdain.

Whatever the case may be, these next three weeks will give you time to think about it all.

Simply put: the New York Islanders are the most human of teams as you will find in all of sports.


Thanks for reading…