Friday, October 26, 2007

The Columbus Blue Jackets’ Civil War Hockey

I was raised by no one less then my rebbetzin grandmother to be a hockey fan. My grandmother, living in McKeesport PA, is a very big Pittsburgh Penguin fan. I grew up in Columbus before we had the Blue Jackets so, like a good boy, I was a Penguin fan. The Penguins still are my team but I follow the Blue Jackets a little as well. My sister in Baltimore, similarly, is now a Caps fan. While I have lived for the past year three miles away from Nationwide Arena, I had never been to a Blue Jackets game before. So last night I decided to take a break from my Christianity studies and took myself out to see a Blue Jackets game. I got a student rush ticket for $25 that put me three rows behind the glass. As you can see there are certain advantages to living in a city in which people do not care about their professional sports team. In Columbus the team that people care about is the Ohio State Buckeye football team and, depending on the year, the basketball team. There is no way that I would get student rush rink side seats to a Penguins game.
Long before I got myself into Late Medieval and Early Modern History, I was a Civil War buff. I was the sort of kid who asked for the Ken Burns Civil War documentary as a bar mitzvah present. Glory is my favorite Civil War Movie. God’s and Generals is the more inspiring and heart wrenching film but despite its genius it is too flawed a film. While I am at it, the best novel ever written about the Civil War without question is Killer Angels.
Despite the fact that the Blue Jackets have a mascot named Stinger, the name Blue Jackets is supposed to refer to the Union army in the Civil War. To those of you who are illiterate in American history, Ohio fought on the Northern Side during the Civil War and produced the North’s two greatest general, Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. The Blue Jackets have recently been emphasizing this. They now have as their motto, “Carry the Flag.” Before the game begins Stinger comes out to plant the Blue Jacket's flag. As they are about to bring out the team a clip from Glory comes on the Jumbotron. It’s the one where Matthew Broderick is about to send the 54th Massachusetts, a colored regiment, to attack Ft. Wagner. He goes over to the carrier of the regimental flag and asks his men: “If this man should fall who will lift the flag and carry on?” You then have members of the Blue Jackets saying I will, I will. The screen then goes to an animation of charging soldiers who then morph into hockey players.
Considering all the Russian and European players on the team, this Civil War ethos is a bit humorous. When the Blue Jackets score they fire off a series of cannons. Maybe in homage to our Russian players we can follow up the cannon fire with the end of Tchaikovsky’s Overture of 1812.
The Blue Jackets were a lousy team last year and look to be, at best, a mediocre team this year. Probably the more appropriate scene for them to have used would have been the one where Matthew Broderick gets killed and Denzel Washington rushes forward and grabs the flag and shouts “Come on” before being shot himself. The men of the 54th then heroically charge forward into battle and are slaughtered.
The Blue Jackets beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0. The Blue Jackets are now 5-3-1. This Civil War hockey fan holds on to hope.


Tobie said...

Oh my goodness, I am obsessed with Killer Angels. I knew large passages by heart by seventh grade, and I watched "Gettysburg" repeatedly in high school, spite it's being 4 hours long with the worst acting I have ever seen.

That said, mixing Civil War and hockey is just silliness.

Izgad said...

You were memorizing the book in 7th grade. I read it in 7th Grade. So you were more advanced than I was. Either this demonstrates that girls progress faster than boys in their love of Civil War or that the Lubavitich school I was going to was giving me a second rate education. :)
Truth is that the Lubavitich school I went to had an incredible history teacher named Mr. Jesse.