sure, there are hardcore fans
who live for the minutiae of the game and know the stats of every visiting player, but you have to believe that the 13,000 people who regularly go to the Air Canada Centre to catch a Rock game are there for the spectacle.Like the equally raucous OHL games around town, this is one major local sporting event where idiotic behaviour in support of the home team isn't just permitted, it's encouraged.
Eight-year-olds take their shirts off and yell like lunatics while their fathers bark at the visiting team. And in the Platinums, fans show up on time, rather than linger in the lounge waiting to be seen.
There are no ushers telling you to sit down, no scowls from fans in the row ahead unimpressed with your taunts of the opposing goalie and, most importantly, not a minute of silence throughout the entire game.
That's the first thing you notice about a Rock game -- the noise. At the recent match between the Rock and the Albany Attack, the din starts 15 minutes before the teams even appear. Credit the grunge-lite of Toronto Rock house band Sister Satellite, the steady stream of metal blasting through the ACC's sound system and the roar for scantily clad team dancers the Rockettes. The Rockettes? You've got to be joking.
Then out come the plastic horns. The poor woman singing the national anthems gets it first, with a crude honk coming from the corner of the arena just as she begins The Star Spangled Banner, and it only gets worse from there.
Music plays -- loudly -- throughout the entire game. Of particular note is the steady rotation of Rock You by crusty Kitchener metalheads Helix. A halftime reunion set during an upcoming Rock home game can't be far off.
The second thing you notice is the violence. Lacrosse has to be one of the most brutal, confusing sports around. There is no offside rule, refs seem to call penalties indiscriminately and players regularly have their faces driven into the glass.
There are some remarkable plays, including a sweet wraparound goal from the Attack, but I'll gladly admit that we have no idea what the hell is going on. No one around us does.
The two guys behind us with the oversized beer glasses -- twice as much beer is consumed at Rock games than at sold-out Leafs and Raptors events -- keep asking, "Where's the ball?" every few minutes, but that doesn't discourage them from shouting themselves hoarse.
Nether does the fact that the Rock-Attack match winds up being the lowest-scoring game in the history of the National Lacrosse League.
The final score: 7-4 Toronto, but that hardly matters. Without sounding too romantic about it, people genuinely seem to be at the game to have a good time, not just to impress their work buddies with their ability to score a pair of tickets.
You can't always say that in Toronto. email@example.comMATT GALLOWAY
-- Native tribes played lacrosse to settle clan disputes and train for war.
-- The Ojibwas called the game Baggattaway, "they bump hips," the Cherokees Tewaarathon, "little brother of war."
-- French settlers thought the sticks looked like bishops' crosiers, hence the name lacrosse.
-- Lacrosse was never officially recognized as our national sport, but by the late 19th century was so popular it was considered Canada's national game.