I am not a sports fan. I’m happy to play myself; I just only go to a sports game when forced. Yet going to the Hockey in Prague just seemed like one of those things you really should do, so I did. The last game of the season was ‘Sparta Praha’ vs ‘Kometa Brno’.
I was hooked in as soon as I walked in the Tip Sport Arena, home of Sparta Praha hockey team. It wasn’t just because I’m a big believer in being able to eat popcorn and drink beer no matter what the situation, for the first time in my sporting history I was attracted to the atmosphere.
The first thing that struck me was the range of fans that showed up to cheer on their teams. Maybe it’s just because, being Australian, I’m used to sports looking more average; but I was stunned to find plenty of people of all ages dressed very alternatively, some as far as completely gothic. All were passionate about their ice hockey.
Be warned however, hockey fans can get a little heated in defence of their teams, and drinking a lot doesn’t help. Nine times out of ten you’ll be fine, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye open.
Settled with food and drinks, my companions and I took our seats. The ice rink is not very large so the good news is, you’ll have a good view no matter where you sit. Just as I had hoped after watching too many American movies, the typical baseball music started up as the team entered the stadium, and so did the crowd.
The noise was almost deafening and never really stopped until the game did. Rival cheer squads had positioned themselves, drum line and all, at opposites ends of the stadium. Competition for the loudest cheer was fierce and team mascots ran through the crowd to pump it up. It was impossible not to get caught up in it all and join in, even if it was in Czech and I could only understand one word in a thousand.
Cheerleaders were moving non-stop from start to finish, I’m certain they would have been as tired as the players. They weren’t particularly good (in fact mostly they seemed lost and out of time) but they were the old fashioned kind, shaking pom poms, not buts. They were definitely amusing and they had a good go at a few ‘can cans’ and throwing each other in the air: it was more then I’d ever seen from cheerleaders before.
As for the game itself, while I have to admit I didn’t understand all the rules, I did know it was fast paced, full of action and yes, filled with the rough and tumble so often featured in news reports. I can’t lie; I would have been disappointed if it hadn’t.
With tickets starting from 200CZK, about $10, there’s really no reason not to give it a go.