The Saint Louis Blues are in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and if you look at their stats from the beginning of the season, this is a bit of a surprise.

Even more surprising is the fact that I’m actually aware of this.

That’s the power of sports in Saint Louis.

Full disclosure: I am undoubtedly biased. But Saint Louis is home to two of the best teams out there: Cardinals baseball and Blues hockey. These teams bring people together in the way that so many sports teams do, but it feels like it runs deeper in Saint Louis. There is an undeniable love for our city, however complicated, and a loyalty to our teams regardless of outcomes. In Saint Louis, it’s a matter of heart.

And so, after being left out of so many “did you see the game?” conversations, I decided to do just that. I decided to see the game.

The shock of this was not lost on anyone.

The first phase of my sports experiment was meeting a couple of friends at a local brewery. The original plan was to catch up, but I suggested a meeting place based on where we would be able to watch the game (I usually do the exact opposite), to ensure that I would stick to my plan.

We situated ourselves at a table right next to a monitor and chatted over commercial breaks, pausing our conversation to watch our team zip around the ice.

By the end of the third period, the game was tied and we were tired. But I knew that the drama of overtime in game seven of playoffs was not to be missed, so I raced home to catch the end of the game.

After struggling to find the sports channel (my usual is HGTV), I spent the next two hours watching hockey. I have never spent that long watching a sporting event I was not attending (usually with a hot dog in hand and not actually paying attention). And the entirety of my hockey knowledge stems from Fredrik Backman’s Beartown, so at minimum I know the buzzwords.

But I was somehow actually following! Admittedly, I did have to Google what “icing” means (I still don’t really understand that one), but as for the rest of the game, I got the gist.

When something exciting happened, I would text my friends who I knew would be up watching. The response was the same each time: “Wait…you’re watching the game?”

And I wasn’t just watching the game; I was invested. I felt personally betrayed when I learned the opposing team’s goalie grew up in Saint Louis. I started talking to the television like I actually knew what was happening.

As the game went into double-overtime (that’s a thing?), I was stress-eating a Pop-Tart when I finally realized I was being ridiculous. Why was this hockey game—something I don’t even follow—making my heart race?

But I still couldn’t pull myself away. A little after eleven o’clock p.m.—WAY past my bedtime—the Blues finally scored the game-winning point. I silent cheered, feeling triumphant both for the Blues and for myself (for finishing the game, of course).

I wanted it for the players, who played entirely too many minutes in one night. I wanted it for the coaches, whose advice and expertise helped us get this far. And I wanted it for our city, which so badly needs a win.

My newfound sports appreciation has me watching yet another hockey game tonight, and one of the commercials summed up my recent dedication perfectly: “Hockey begins as something you watch, but it becomes something you feel.” While I can’t pretend to be an actual lifelong sports fan, I now have a much better understanding of why so many people are. And even if the Blues don’t win playoffs, they have gained another—however unlikely—fan this season in me.

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