Wow. Well its been almost a year. And its been one heck of a ride. All I will say is that a lot has happened that has caused me to not expect the best from a lot of things. I'd even gotten to saying that I really REALLY needed to see something good happen to someone good to "keep the faith". But then, something happened...(oh, and a certain someone who's been blogged about before sent me a not so subtle nudge ;) Thank you, you know who you are.)
So I am a sports freak as people who know me know. And one of "my teams" is the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL hockey team. And look, we know, the team isn't that good. Last year we had an epic implosion and this year, after a promising start, we...well we're struggling. I can tell you in my heart I still believe - we are a young team that could become more, but the one thing that had troubled me was that, regardless of talent (or lack thereof) losses came when we seemed to lose our heart, or our desire to win. De-press-ing. That, coupled with growing fan discontent - and as a reminder, in my book, a fan's job is to support their team. Not with total blind faith or in a disillusioned way - made things look grim. We had lost every game in January and we had to do something but what? And, to boot the next game on the schedule was against an insurmountable obstacle (for us anyway) the Detriot Red Wings (booo!)
So then, after a loss last Tuesday, one Blue Jackets fan decided to do something. His name is Tyler and, being rather frustrated, Tyler put "money on the board". This is a hockey tradition-I'll be brief, players and coaches place a bet on the dry erase board in the locker room to challenge the team, or players, to a certain achievement or win. For example, a guy's parents may be in town so he puts a dollar amount on the board that he'll donate if he scores or whatever.
So, Tyler put money on the board. He put up $20 to the charity of choice of the player who scored the winning goal.
And in a swirl of ridiculous activity and hope and positivity and proof that Twitter still works sometimes, Blue Jackets fans from all over ended up pledging so much money that by 6 p.m. on game day there was over $5000 in pledges from the fans and an additional $1.5K in incentive pledges, all to charity. The team even got wind of it and those numbers were on the board IN THE LOCKER ROOM before the game.
Let's recap - $20 --> $6000 based on belief and support and hope.
And then the game started. If I thought you all were hockey fans I'd go into great detail, but I won't. I'll say in one of the best games ever, in front of a sellout crowd at home, the Jackets went into overtime and then a shoot out and WON. They won. They won in storybook fashion. And Tyler sent out one simple Tweet. Then word came from the locker room, from our assistant captain, that the team was going to match the fans' donations. I'll be honest, I almost cried (and apparently so did Tyler ;) )
Because here's the thing, sport or no sport, sucky record or not, here's what we are left with (prepare yourself for list of cliche's now): proof that one person can start something HUGE, proof that belief and support does count for something, proof that there are still good people (read Tyler's Twitter stream - you'll be hard pressed to find someone more humble in the middle of all this and who did it for all the right reasons), proof that we all still want to be part of something, and ultimately proof that, even for a low-lying team, little happy miracles do still happen and, even it it takes a lot, our team does have heart.
I have to say I hadn't cared that much about a hockey game in a while but I was sitting on the edge of my seat all night and I felt like part of something so cool - this crazy mix of fans willing their team, sending total support, pulling like crazy for goals, seeing people focus only on the good (even with fingers crossed) and I was nothing but proud to be a CBJ fan and part of the fan community here. If you care to search on twitter for #moneyontheboard, I promise you will see something special.
The team and fans have gotten some crap in the media "what, your fans have to pay you to win now?" But whatever. You don't get it. Seriously. And I'm sorry you don't. Because "money on the board' was a magical week of positive things happening.
So here's to Tyler. You rallied a team, a fan base and you kickstarted an epic amount of donations of over $10,000 (and apparently more than a few pints of blood, some miles run and some push ups) to well-deserving charities.
See? Good people do still exist...and good things still. do. happen. And I'm back to hopefully find even more of them and to convince both you and me. :)
[this did get a lot of good press - among others here's one from the national wires. Or search for "money on the board" and "Blue Jackets"*]
*this is a blatant, shameless plug for how cool this story is:)
3 weeks ago