I’m not naive enough to think that the Oilers aren’t currently as bad as they seem. They’re bad. I get that and it’s frustrating. I’ve been too frustrated for words on multiple occasions over the past eight seasons that they’ve failed to make the playoffs and this year is certainly no exception. The longer the Oilers remain in the basement of the standings the higher my frustration level gets, and I’m not alone. But no matter how frustrated I might get, I still remain loyal to the Oil: they’re my team and I’m not about to give up on them now after eight less than mediocre seasons of standing behind them.
Yesterday I was asked if I was humiliated to be an Oiler’s fan. My answer? Of course I’m not humiliated to be an Oiler’s fan: I still plan my schedule around Oiler’s games so I can watch as many as possible, I continue to drive my car with a large Oiler’s decal on the back window, I still proudly wear my jersey, I still go to games, I STILL SUPPORT MY TEAM.
The better question would have been: am I frustrated being an Oiler’s fan? And my answer would’ve been that a lot of the time I am, but I’m also really proud to be an Oiler’s fan. Being frustrated with the Oiler’s is a far cry from being humiliated by them. I wouldn’t even say that I’m embarrassed to be an Oiler’s fan. If anything I’m proud to be a fan that stands by my team even when it’s extremely difficult to do so. If someone is only a “fan” when a team is doing well then I wouldn’t consider them a fan, I consider them a bandwagon-er. Ain’t nobody got time for fake fans.
When I was young I fell in love with the game of hockey and then I fell in love with a team that inspired me to continue loving the game. When I wear my jersey I don’t think about how awful the Oiler’s current record is, I think of the guys (past and present) who are a big part of the reason I wear the jersey: Ryan Smyth, Dwayne Roloson, Wayne Gretzky, and most recently, Ben Scrivens, among others. Being a fan isn’t just about your team’s current record, it’s about your favourite players, your favourite memories, your passion, and most importantly it’s about sticking with your team through their lowest points so that when they reach their highest point you’ll have free rights to drink your face off and cheer like there’s no tomorrow. But seriously, sticking it out when your team is less than adequate only makes their success even more special.
Being an Oiler’s fan doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to get frustrated, it just means that you grab another beer or glass of wine and remind yourself that there’s always next year. I’m not saying it’s easy to be an Oiler’s fan these days but this can’t last forever. For now we just need to embrace the positive things like Smytty being one power play goal away from breaking an NHL record, Ben Scrivens’ record breaking 59-save shutout, or the amazing wins the boys have pulled off that no one ever saw coming. If you give up on them now don’t bother coming back when they start making it to the playoffs because the true Oiler’s fans don’t want you.
Go ahead, have another Rexall crack beer if that will get you through, but DON’T GIVE UP ON THIS TEAM. One day they will achieve the greatness that everyone knows is within them and when that day comes we can all stand proud with our team knowing that we supported them through the worst times. Keep bleeding copper and blue, folks, I have a feeling we’re going to be drinking for celebratory reasons rather than “drowning our sorrows” reasons soon (I mean really, how long can this possibly go on?!).