Let me start out by saying I was quick to start using #WpgWhiteout, #GoJetsGo, etc. on social media. I staged photos with my dogs dressed in Winnipeg Jets gear in front of a blue and white backdrop with balloons and streamers. I programmed social media posts during the playoff games when I knew I wouldn’t be watching or near a TV.
But when I showed up to a meeting on game day not wearing a Jets jersey or shirt, I got side glares. Someone asked why I wasn’t rocking the team colours and I said I didn’t know there was a game that day, I was all but shunned. Really. Even though it seemed like it was in a joking manner I think some people were actually offended I wasn’t participating. They made comments throughout the meeting. It was almost vicious and, admittedly, quite trivial.
At first I was bothered and considered going out to get a shirt so I could fit in. Seriously. For a person not easily swayed by peer pressure (and not usually giving a crap what people think of me) I almost felt like bowing and getting something just to fit in.
Granted, I can’t name three players on the team, I have no idea who they played in the first round of the playoffs, and I even went to the last regular-season game and don’t remember who they played, I still feel like they are “my” team and refer to them as “us” in conversation.
While it was a little bothersome that people can get so caught up in hockey fever, it was refreshing to see and experience the sense of community that the Jets have brought to not only Winnipeg but to Canada (and beyond).
Winnipeg is known as a friendly community. Hell, Manitoba is — “Friendly Manitoba.” There are few things that get everybody in the province to rally together. The local NHL team is one of them.
I chat with celebrities on the radio all the time. Recently I talked with fellow Winnipegger Ashleigh Banfield of HLN and within moments of our interview, she brought up the Jets. Later I talked with Peter Mansbridge about the upcoming Royal Wedding and, again, the Jets were somehow brought into the conversation. Colleagues in Los Angeles with whom I talk entertainment and celebrity news were bringing up Winnipeg and the Jets, some admitting they’d never heard of the city until now (even though I am from Winnipeg!).
As the NHL Playoffs continue and the hockey-viewing parties get bigger, I will commit to being more involved by paying attention to the team. I guess the commitment I made by buying team-coloured decorations, bar glasses, snacks and even a Winnipeg Jets cake wasn’t enough.
I don’t have the heart to tell people I won’t be in the country for the final games against Las Vegas but maybe I can redeem myself with selfies in a sports bar in Louisiana while I am there for work.