The best thing about having a team-issued credential to cover the Lightning is that I'm a Lightning fan, and I like to believe that being a credentialed member of the media allows me to be an ambassador on behalf of fellow fans who will never get to experience the game of hockey that way. Through this weekly column, I'll be sharing peeks behind the magical media curtain with you. Today, we're going to talk about you, the vocal majority.
I know what you expect from us humble scribes dedicated to a life in service to you, the loyal fans: laser-like focus directed entirely at the action taking place on the ice so that we can provide the absolute best coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning possible.
Well, of course. That’s exactly what happens. Sure. I mean, we try. But stuff slips through sometimes. Actually, it’s most of the time, when it comes to noise. Honestly, it’s constant.
Because the press box is an open air facility, we’re really not separated from the spectator seats at all. It’s kind of a loft tucked in behind the seats in section 318. As such, we get all the ambient noise in the arena bowl that’s part of your game day experience. Organ music. The goal horn. Tesla coils. You screaming.
Oh yeah, we hear you.
In spite of our best efforts to dedicate ourselves exclusively to the task at hand (and where our next snack is coming from, of course), we hear the things you folks say in the stands.
We hear those of you who sing the “Star Spangled Banner” aloud. We hear those of you who sing along with “O Canada.” We hear those of you sing it in French. Impressive on all counts. Good work.
We hear your call-and-response cheers of “Tampa!” and “Bay!”. Not nearly as impressive. Sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a Buccaneers thing and should be restricted exclusively to use within the confines of Raymond James Stadium.
We hear the “Hey Victor, be a superstar” people. I’m not sure what the story is behind that...and I’m sure there is one...but I do admire their consistency in doing it at least once during almost every home game.
We hear the frequently-maligned and/or frequently-underappreciated (depending on what side you choose to take in that ongoing debate) Sticks of Fire chanting that they Believe That We Will Win.
We hear those of you who scream, “shoooooooooooot” (sometimes we scream that too, especially lately, but silently to ourselves, inside our own skulls, because decorum dictates).
We, unfortunately, hear that guy (not always the same guy, but it might as well be) who has been to enough games to know that the PA announcer always notifies the crowd when there’s one minute remaining in the period and asks three seconds before that “Hey, how much time is left in the period?”. Hilarious...the first 100 times you hear it. That guy needs to develop some new material and he never, ever will. Why should he? He gets laughs every single time.
We hear when you goodnaturedly boo some poor slob who misses a shot from the red line during an intermission, blowing his chance to win a new car. Or who doesn’t look up in time to realize he’s on the Kiss Cam. Now that’s funny.
We hear your on-the-fly performance evaluations of the on-ice officials. Oddly, those seem to tend to skew more toward one end of the quality spectrum than the other. Okay, maybe that’s not odd.
We hear your sometimes disturbingly bizarre shouts of encouragement during fights. Best/worst example: “Suck his eyeball!” Ew. On multiple levels.
The point here is if you’ve ever been at a game, cheering your lungs out and suffered an existential crisis, wondering if anybody even hears you, well, I can’t speak on behalf of the players, but the answer is yes. Yes, someone most definitely hears you.