Friday, 22 September 2017

We Did The Unthinkable

Tonight, I had the pleasure of covering for our normal public address announcer at the Bisons men's hockey game. The game itself was played at Seven Oaks Arena on the opposite side of town from the University of Manitoba as the CFL's Blue Bombers and their fans had taken over Investors Group Field at the university. Being a neutral site game, we had none of the comforts we normally do at Wayne Fleming Arena and it forced us to improvise with other options - music, announcements, and a completely new timing system. We made it all work in the end, but we did something that I wasn't sure I'd see this early after posting an article about it.

On Monday, I wrote an article about how I'd like to see the tradition of anthems being sung prior to sports events to end. It got a lot of traction through social media, and I have to admit that there were some good debates around the topic. I still believe anthems should be retired, but I never thought I'd be a part of a test run tonight!

As I stated above, we were working off a laptop that was filled with music, but the one piece of music that was notably absent on the laptop was "O Canada". Because we were inside an arena, the wifi signals weren't very good nor did we have passwords to access them, so we were kind of in a bind. It was decided with about twenty minutes prior to the opening face-off that without an anthem singer and without the music, we would skip the anthem on this night!

With about three minutes to go prior to game time, I announced the starting lineups for the Regina Cougars. They came out on to the ice, and the Bisons made their way down the tunnel and took to the ice as well. I announced the Bisons' starting lineup, and then we simply played some upbeat rock-and-roll as the officials spoke with both benches. The players organized themselves on the ice, the officials took their places, and the puck was dropped to open the game. Not one person seemed to miss the anthem, and neither team put up an objection to the omission of this "traditional" piece of the game.

Will this happen again? I doubt it. One of the things that the Gameday Manager for the Bisons does is work with a group that provides anthem singers for every home game that happens on the campus. These young singers use the opportunity to add to their resum├ęs and to their portfolios, so it's helpful in that sense.

But did we miss it tonight? Nope. No one - fan, player, coach, official - mentioned the lack of anthem as we walked the concourse post-game, and the overall effect was zero on the game. It was a fast, exciting preseason game that featured a couple of fights, some nice goals, a few big saves, and a Bisons 3-2 win at the final buzzer.

I'm not saying we're going to set a trend here, but if it didn't matter to anyone on this night, should it matter to anyone on any other random night?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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