November 7, 2003

Making a Better Lynah Atmosphere

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For over 35 years, Lynah Rink has been home to the Cornell men’s hockey team, one of the most successful programs in the country. It’s also housed some of the best fans — the Lynah Faithful, which have made Ithaca one of the most hostile road environments in college athletics. With the raucous Red fans behind them, the icers have won over 70 percent of their games since Lynah opened in 1957, including a ridiculous 63-game home winning streak from Jan. 14, 1967 to Jan. 29, 1972. In its magical run to the Frozen Four last season, the Red went undefeated-untied at home (15-0-0).

After arguably the team’s most successful campaign since Cornell’s perfect season in 1970, fans had expectations that were sky high. Casual hockey fans wanted to be a part of the program, joining the usual hardcore members of the Faithful in seeking hockey tickets (that’s why we had that entire fiasco a little over a month ago). Going to the old rink on Friday and Saturday nights during the winter months — it’s been deemed the cool thing to do.

But that’s exactly the problem. Cornell hockey games have become merely a warmup activity before the students hit the bars. It’s now just a cheaper, hipper alternative to a movie. And that, my friends, just isn’t acceptable.

Sure, last weekend’s showing by the icers was disappointing. Who in their right minds expected a tie and (gasp) a loss? But it wasn’t the men’s hockey team that’s been bothering me all week — it’s been the fans.

It all started two weekends ago in Cornell’s exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 national team. Yes, it was the first game of the season. And yes, it was only against some kids who can’t vote or buy cigarettes. But fans were nowhere to be seen up to 10 minutes before the opening faceoff, and when the national anthem played, the rink was only half-filled. Where the heck was the rest of the Faithful? Did you forget where to go?

Over the years, the one thing that’s really set Cornell’s fans apart from their peers has been their creative chants and cheers. But at least early this season, it’s become quite apparent that a lot of students don’t even know the cheers. During the exhibition, the band tried its best to liven up the flat (at least by Cornell standards) crowd, but it was futile. Here’s a hint: when the band plays the “Hey Song” right before the start of the third period, you’re supposed to say “Sieve, you suck”, not “Hey”.

Last Friday’s crowd was equally horrendous, with a less-than-filled Lynah in the regular season opener against one of the best teams Cornell will face all season. I understand that it was Halloween, but don’t parties start later, anyway? I also know that Bill Cosby was doing his thing in Barton, but real hockey fans don’t miss games to see a gelatin guru. Remember, you’re supposed to be the Faithful (i.e. faithful to the team, and hence, attending the games).

Perhaps what was most disturbing to me, and the reason I’m writing this column was the actions of the idiot who threw a bottle onto the ice in the direction of Western Michigan’s head coach on Halloween. It’s one thing for fans to throw crumpled up newspapers onto the ice before the game (here’s another tip for those uninformed ticket-holders: fish when Harvard comes, and maybe some toothpaste for Colgate). But it’s another matter to throw objects with malicious intent, whether it be at opposing coaches or players. You just don’t do it.

While the fans that go to the games have been disappointing, there’s an entirely separate group of “entrepreneurs” who have been even worse. Although I live off-campus now, I still love getting those great classified ads e-mails from Denice Cassaro. In each one of those emails, I inevitably see tons of ads reading, “Hockey tickets for sale! Will sell to best offer! E-mail xyz123@cornell.edu.” OK, I’m sure some of these people are genuine fans that have a legitimate reason for missing the games. But do you really need to make a profit off of your fellow hockey fans? For goodness sakes, just give the tickets to a friend or sell it at face value (that’d be six dollars per game for students. I don’t mean the 12 dollars printed on the ticket).

Recently, I saw an eBay auction, in which a set of season tickets (Section D, Row 8, Seat 4) was sold in excess of 300 dollars. Trust me, I’m not a math whiz, but isn’t it illegal in New York State to sell tickets for a price which is greater than 20 percent above face value?

Look, I’m an econ major, so I eat the supply and demand stuff for lunch. With excess demand for tickets this year, there are bound to be people willing to pay more. But does anybody on campus need the extra few bucks so desperately that you’d resort to ripping off a classmate? I sure hope not.

After one weekend of regular season hockey, I’m still not sure how good the team will be. The team has the potential to be as good as last year’s squad, maybe better. The same holds true for the Lynah Faithful. So before the next home game two weeks from today, go read The Sun’s preseason hockey supplement, go buy a hockey jersey at the campus store, and make a visit to http://eLynah.com and learn the cheers. It’s a long season, but you need to start shaping up.

Archived article by Alex Ip

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