The season approaches

I picked up my Sioux Falls Stampede season tickets over the noon hour today. (The season opening home game is Saturday, Sept. 24). My usual pre-season desire was reinforced by an ad in Sunday’s paper that appears to be part of a tremendous new ad campaign.

The ad copy reads:

When you’re playing for a chance
instead of a paycheck…it’s more than a game.

That’s why I love USHL hockey. These aren’t guys out there playing for thousands of dollars a game or worrying about bonus clauses in their contract. These are kids age 20 or younger at the beginnning of the season playing for a chance — repeat, chance — to get a college hockey scholarship. They’ve moved hundreds if not thousands of miles from home, family and friends to chase that chance in a town of which they may have never heard.

A handful might someday end up with a professional hockey contract. For now, though, when they skate on the ice and the puck drops, they’re pursuing a dream that, if realized, still doesn’t give them a paycheck — just an opportunity to play at yet a higher level. When that is your desire and motivation, you really are talking about more than simply a game.

Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.

Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock

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