No, I’m not a bandwagon jumper. Yes, you’re a better fan than me.
It’s been almost ten years since we launched OilersNation. It was myself, alongside Wanye Gretz and some of our monied, silent partners. I’ll never forget our first post. Actually, that’s not true. I’ve totally forgotten it. But I do remember that there was a first post.
It all happened in a little automotive shop we somehow weaselled our way into. Every Saturday, we’d confer over donuts about what to post on the Nation. After we hit publish, we’d sit and watch as no one commented. So we decided to invent personas, and we commented ourselves as dozens of other people (my favourite was Wanye’s Tracey, a very excited and excitable Oilers fan).
The ensuing years from that launch point are fraught with highs and lows. All of the highs have to do with building this site and making friends with the amazing members of the Nation community. All the lows, we shared together as the Nation: the Oilers, since the last cup run in 2006; and that one time I destroyed a Blackberry by throwing it against a wall to prevent it from sending an email to one of our writers about how much of a pain in the ass they were.
Now we can all experience the right highs once more thanks to a playoff berth clinched by the copper and blue.
Yes, I’m excited about the Oilers making the playoffs. And that might surprise some of you. Since I bounced on out of the OilersNation ownership group, the amount of attention I paid to the Oilers declined a bit. I had less skin in the game. Still, I always knew how they were doing, who they were trading, and whether or not Rob Schremp was still, you know, a thing (he always will be in my heart).
A lot of people ask me why I left the Nation. The typical answer I give is that I was moving on to a bunch of new projects (and this is the part where I tell you about The Expats, Nerd Nite Edmonton, and a super-secret project I’m working on with CBC Radio).
I’ve been lying about it this whole time.
The truth is that I couldn’t sit across from Wanye anymore and look into those Puss-in-Boots eyes with every heartbreaking trade or crushing defeat on the ice. I couldn’t walk into the office anymore and have him immediately tug on my sleeve, saying, “Will it be better today? It has to be better today, right?!”
So I’ve had my eye on things. And I’ve been discreet about it.
But don’t call me a bandwagon jumper.
Just because I don’t tweet at Gregor about line picks (he still posts those sometimes, right?) — or message Baggedmilk incessantly about ice girls, or yell at Brownlee about whatever the fuck it is he’s still doing here — doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. Oh sure, I’m not as good a fan as you guys. Not by a long shot. But I’ve been watching… albeit behind two hands, looking out from between my chubby internet fingers.
But just because you saw no explicit evidence of my love for the team — on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else but in my pink, lockable Eccolo journal — doesn’t mean I wasn’t quietly cursing the losses, and silently fist-pumping the wins.
It doesn’t mean I didn’t answer all of Wanye’s calls asking about “McTavish this,” and “Darryl Katz that,” and “ZOMG EBERLE!” It doesn’t mean I didn’t read OilersNation every week so I could make sure I knew what the hell Wanye was talking about in those weekly calls.
I chose to suffer in silence, to go it alone. To wait for the right moment to let my exuberance out. And what do I get for the strong, silent Gary Cooper-like behaviour? An accusation of not being a real fan.
There’s a spectrum of real fans, Nation. And I’m saying it right here, right now: I am on the spectrum.
(But YOU are definitely a far better fan than I am.)