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Glass Bangers: True Fans or Morons?

That is the question.  At least that is the question I’m asking myself after watching the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Do those people who sit in the first row behind the glass and actively engage in ‘glass banging’ constitute a segment of the fan base who you would consider to be true fans who show their emotion by banging on the glass or are these people just a group of morons who think that banging on the glass with wild abandon somehow makes them a bigger part of the game?

Even the NHL and Verizon are somewhat to blame as they have encouraged this type of behaviour through TV advertisement.

This idea that fans can impact the game is not just limited to glass bangers as we recently saw in Washington when an unruly fan somehow got under the skin of John Tortarella.  (I couldn’t agree more with Gord Miller’s assessment at around the 40 second point of the video, when he asks what the fans would do if the glass was removed).

And of course who can forget the exchange between Tie Domi and a Flyer Fan in the penalty box.

Now these incidents might not have been the direct results of glass bangers but it rolls into that idea of the fans thinking they play a bigger role in the game then they really do.  So exactly how much of an impact do fans have during a game?

Is the concept that the crowd acts as the 6th man on the ice a fact or is it just one more cliché that hockey players repeat so fans can feel like they are a bigger part of the game then they really are?  While I have no doubt that player’s must get jazzed when they hear the crowds chant after a big hit, a nice goal or a brawl that goes the distance, do they really care when they see the fans banging on the glass?

Specifically, from the visiting team’s point of view, does it really affect them when they are involved in a scrum and they see some yahoo banging on the glass and swearing at them?  (As was said regarding the Tortarella video, how many glass bangers would be as aggressive if the glass was removed and the hockey player was in your face?).  I would have to imagine that it may amuse the player to see how worked up some people get, but I cannot imagine that it possibly gets into their heads to any great degree.

How many times does Sidney Crosby cruise into the corners when playing at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia and worry about the glass banging Flyers fans?  My guess is never.  He is more likely to be worried about one of the big, hulking defenseman bearing down on him, ready to pulverize him into the boards.

Clearly there have been instances where the fans have been successful in ruffling the players feathers to the point that fisticuffs result but in almost all instances it would appear that the fans were worse off for it.  As they say (whose they?) if you play with the bull you might get the horns.

Kip Brennan of the AHL Hershey Bears while in the penalty box during a game in New Hampshire versus the Manchester Monarchs shows this fan what he thinks of his taunts.

And perhaps the most famous example was back in 1979 at Madison Square Garden, during a post-game fight, when a fan stole Stan Jonathan’s stick and hit him with it. Terry O’Reilly jumped over the glass boards to retrieve the stick and perhaps to show the fan a little “hockey justice”. The rest of the Bruins followed O’Reilly when other fans tried to interfere in perhaps the most memorable hockey fight of all time to involve players and fans.

Now perhaps if more glass bangers were to adopt the tactic of this Florida Panthers fan who instead of banging on the glass in some vain attempt to interact with the players, decided to expose herself (on live television).  Now that is glass banging I can get behind……..or in front of.

Alas most glass bangers do not have the good sense of this fine young lady and will continue to bang away in a futile attempt to have some sort of imagined impact on the game play.

I’ve always considered hockey fans to be different from other sports fans.  Are we now just one step removed from becoming a group of soccer hooligans?

Clearly that is extreme and I don’t think that hockey fans have descended to the level of soccer hooliganism but at what point does it become just a bit too much enthusiasm?

FSN Rocky Mountain reporter Alanna Rizzo was covering a North Dakota Fighting Sioux versus Denver University Pioneers college hockey game in North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena and she felt that the North Dakota fans were over the top in terms of the glass banging at the DU bench.  She reported that “Pioneers assistant coach Derek Lalonde asked the referee to stop fans from banging against the glass on the DU bench”.  So were these fans being over-enthusiastic or were they simply attempting to get underneath the skin of the opposing team in an attempt to help out the home squad?

One final consideration when assessing the place of glass banging in today’s NHL is the price of the ticket.  I spoke with Steve from the Detroit Red Wings ticket sales department and the cost of a single ticket in the front row is about $150 US.  Do you really want to pay that kind of money to possibly get escorted out of the arena?  I looked up the Code of Conduct for a couple of NHL Arena’s (GM Place & MSG) and I can see that the action of glass banging could constitute a violation of the rules as set forth by these arena’s, namely; that guests shall avoid blocking the view of other guests and that no use of foul, threatening or abusive language or gestures will be tolerated in the arena.  While it might seem inconsequential the team does have the right to escort you from the building for these behaviours if they are deemed inappropriate.

So does glass banging have a place in the modern NHL or has its time passed, along with the wave and the use of the term “you know” in a post game interview.  (I’m pretty sure Theo Fleury holds the record with 23 “you know’s” in a 3 minute post game interview he gave during the late 1980′s).

Perhaps I’m showing an age bias and in fact people love the glass bangers.  Either way please join the discussion and let me know what place, if any, you think Glass Bangers have in today’s NHL, in the comments section below.

Posted by on May 1, 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Columns, Editorials

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com Drew

    In my office, whenever one of the employees does a bang up job, we all bang on the glass windows. I like to think this is a salute to the NHL playoffs.

  • Calihockey

    I think Moron is too nice a term for these “fans”. Cheering is great. Banging the glass until your hands are bloody isn’t.

  • Mikos

    I kind of like when the fans show their emotions by hitting the glass during a big play or a fight. It shows how into the game they are.

    Of course I would trade every glass banger in the arena for a few more Florida fans like the one in the video.

  • Missourimike

    Glass bangers get a giant booo urns. Although I do like the wave.

    This low opinion is shared by others as I read on another site which was talking about the various types of fans this description of what you call “Glass Bangers”;

    These guys (usually two or three of them) have front row seats for the one and only time in their lives. They feel the need to be part of the game by banging on the glass like apes when the action gets close. After the third or fourth time, it gets very annoying.

  • hbomb

    It costs a lot of money to be a “Glass Banger”…..bang on, it’s the playoffs!

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com david

    I’ve posted this article over at Second City Hockey (as a conversation on there spawned this article) and there have been quite a number of humourous responses.

    Its too bad I didn’t think to add a Poll to this article although it appears quite overwhelming that the majority of IC readers (as well as Second City Hockey readers) are against Glass Banging.

  • VicF

    Maybe everything in moderation? A bit of banging on the glass as the opposing player tries to face-wash your guy seems not unreasonable. Sitting behind the bench and banging on the glass for Period 1, Period 2, Period 3… that’s another matter. Like fighting, this is a bit of the “off color” part of hockey’s personality. And like fighting, a bit of it is part of the game, but if it crosses the line, it’s moronic.

    And I do like that Verizon commercial — especially the “loser, loser, best baby in the world!” part.

  • Calihockey

    As I watch the Caps/Pens game many Cap fans obviously don’t feel the same as I see quite a few glass bangers.

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com david

    Over at Second City Hockey there have been some great comments and Kerows wrote a beauty which he kindly told me I could reproduce here:

    This gets tossed about frequently while watching games with friends, and I have two theories:

    1. These poor, non-season-ticket-holding souls, have just shelled out two weeks salary from their minimum wage jobs to attend the only hockey game they will see in person all year. Due to the gravity of the situation, they have taken it upon themselves to achieve a blood alcohol rating of .20 before even arriving at the game. They will be damned if they are not going to squeeze every penny out of this experience they probably will barely even remember tomorrow. Also, having their friends see them pounding the glass as if they were trying to escape an airborne pathogen will give them bragging rights for the rest of the year.

    2. They’re brain-dead, drunken mongoloids, with insecurities about a small penis and issues of being weaned from the teat to early. Leading them to believe their mothers never loved them enough.

    Basically, they’re the same goofs who scream, “Get in the hole!”, everytime Tiger Woods tees off on a par-5.

  • Tangonia

    Lol, I think it might be that some are hockey fans AND morons, atleast after a couple drinks. A true hockey fan, in my belief, is one that never gives up on thier team, and if they’re eliminated, they just jump on board with their next favourite and start cheering for them. I think a true hockey fan is one who will watch the third period when his team is down 5-0, but won’t be able to watch Sportscentre in the morning because watching them lose again spoils his morning. I think a true fan appreciates the accomplishments of players and teams, whether he cheers for them or not.

  • saucerpass

    I can essentially see two sides to this argument.

    For glass banging:
    Hockey is unique in the sense that front row spectators have this massive piece of plastic in front of them. Few sports put any fan in a position like that. Hell, being a Sabres fan, I can remember in the old Auditorium, you practically sat on the friggn’ ice if you were in the front row. It’s a treat and a privilege in my opinion.

    I’ve watched plenty of football in my day and have certainly seen fans in the front row banging on the padded wall below them. However, they have little impact on the game since they are 20-25 yards away from the actual playing field.

    Baseball fans don’t have the opportunities to hit anything as pounding the concrete barrier between them and the field would result in a broken hand.

    Basketball is somewhat like hockey in the sense that you have spectators sitting courtside with the ability to get a player’s attention if need be, however, I can say that I’ve never seen a spectator at a basketball game out of his seat in the front row, pounding on the floor and screaming. He or she would probably be ejected from the arena rather quickly.

    This leaves hockey with a unique opportunity for fans to be somewhat involved in the game. It’s another thing that separates hockey from most other major sports. If there is a fight taking place in front of your seat, it’s the nature of a hockey fan to react in some sort of way. Yelling and pounding the glass is one venture that some fans take and for me, that’s all fine and good as long as it’s done within reason. And I stress within reason. Arenas do (and rightfully should) have the authority to eject a fan if their actions are out of line or placing other spectators in danger.

    Having the opportunity to pound the glass (within reason) once and a while adds to the uniqueness of the hockey experience and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything in the world.

    Against glass banging:
    Now, while I do enjoy the idea of being a fan and expressing yourself, there are those fans who don’t know where to draw the line and go above and beyond the point of being annoying to the level of being disrespectful to not only the fans around them, but the players and coaches as well. Banging the glass behind the players bench/penalty box and making inappropriate comments to players and coaches is poor form and tarnishes the integrity of the game. And since ESPN’s Sportscenter tends to favor hockey highlights that show the negativity of the game, it would be best to control the emotions that you and go get a 9 dollar Coca~Cola or something.

    Now, with that out of the way, I can share my least favorite aspect of going to live sporting events. I don’t think there is any other way to describe people who bang on the glass in an obnoxious manor than “that guy.” I can’t stand “that guy.”

    Nobody likes “that guy.” People who like “that guy” are tools themselves. Nobody likes that guy who pounds on the glass all game long when it isn’t even necessary. Nobody likes that guy who stands up while the puck is in play, turns around and starts waving erratically to try and gain the attention of a friend he or she is on the phone with. Nobody likes that guy who has the biggest homemade sign in the arena that displays “go team” and feels the need to hold it up during every break in action to try and gain the attention of the cameraman who is hooked into the jumbotron. Nobody likes that guy who sits on the cell phone the whole game talking loudly ruining the game for those around them.

    Every sport has their respective “that guy.” Like mentioned above, golf has that guy who yells out something after every stroke of the ball. Football and soccer have that guy who runs out on the field during a stoppage in play. Baseball has that guy who tried to get in the heads of the middle relief pitchers warming up on the 1st and 3rd baseline before the game.

    For me, it’s not so much the glass banging that gets to me. If it’s done within reason, it completes the hockey experience for the fan. What bothers me the most are the people who abuse the privilege of sitting up front at a hockey game by trying to gain attention from the people around them. Whether it renders a laugh or a rude comment, “that guy” feeds off of it and will continue to do it because, well, he/she is “that guy.”

    I don’t know if I will ever be able to sit in the front row at a hockey game but I will tell you that if I’m ever granted the opportunity, I wouldn’t act like a jerk.

    -schrembs
    saucerpass.com
    @saucerpass

  • http://hockeyblogadventure.blogspot.com/ Cornelius Hardenbergh

    For the record, I whole-heartedly support glass-banging and nearly any other ways that fans show excitement and support.

    Anything else is being a wet blanket and a “You don’t like hockey THE RIGHT WAY” type.

    Lighten up, champ.

  • Calihockey

    I’m not so sure I agree with you Cornelius. I think that a little enthusiasm is fine. As Saucerpan says, if you Glass Bang at the appropriate times, then that’s fine. But if you are just doing it to be “that guy” then you are likely just “that guy” whose doing it to be seen and not because of any particular love of the game.

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com david

    Wow. Some great opinions (Saucerpan deserves a special shout out as his comment nearly equaled my post in terms of length). Really appreciated the comment. Very well thought out.

    I agree that most glass bangers would likely qualify under the “that guy” category. In fact later this week I hope to have a post about all the different “that guys” that attend an NHL game.

    If you have any ideas or suggestions feel free to email me @
    dave@illegalcurve.com

  • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com goon

    <<<<<<>>>>>>>>>

    I think the problem with Alanna Rizzo is that she failed to understand what a rivalry was, DU was talking smack in the news papers before they even got to Grand Forks and the Sioux burried them.

    I was at both games in question and I don’t remember the fans being any worse than they are than the other arena’s around the country. I also have a hard time believing that the fans in Wisconsin where she claimes to have worked are any better. I don’t think it helped with the DU coaches walk across the ice.

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com Ari

    If anyone is in the Ottawa area I have a half season’s worth of on the glass tickets. If you are interested let me know.

    I like this comment

    “1. These poor, non-season-ticket-holding souls, have just shelled out two weeks salary from their minimum wage jobs to attend the only hockey game they will see in person all year. Due to the gravity of the situation, they have taken it upon themselves to achieve a blood alcohol rating of .20 before even arriving at the game. They will be damned if they are not going to squeeze every penny out of this experience they probably will barely even remember tomorrow. Also, having their friends see them pounding the glass as if they were trying to escape an airborne pathogen will give them bragging rights for the rest of the year.”

  • JamesBeam

    Glass bangers should have their faces banged by the people around them that they are ruining the game for. I myself don’t hesitate to go after a glass banger when I attend a game. Why this behaviour is tolerated by stadium personnel and these fools are not thrown out of the stadium is beyond me.

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