Monster Mash- The Monsters Lose Their Identity

It was only yesterday that I received the devastating news that the Cleveland Monsters, formerly the Lake Erie Monsters, have officially lost their identity as a Cleveland sports team. We now have a new name (again!), and a new set of colors. What was wrong with Lake Erie Monsters as our name? I mean, doesn't our Monster supposedly live in a lake? Like Lake Erie, for example? The name change is irritating enough. But the color change from the edgy black and blue to the oh-so-Cavs-ish burgundy and gold is an outrage. It's bad enough that our hockey team's merchandise has been relegated to a back corner of the Quickenloans team shop in a space that's smaller than my walk-in closet, but now they can no longer even have the dignity of keeping their original colors. Did they not prove themselves as Calder Cup champions this year, before the Cavs had their victory? Yes, they did, and they deserve better treatment than this. Don't get me wrong; I'm proud that we have a successful basketball team, but it's time for the Monsters to be rewarded for their hard work. 

I must say that it is extremely unusual for me to be defending the rights of any sports team. By default, I really hate sports, preferring instead to see musicals, plays, or stand-up comedy shows. Now, before you all start making me the Chuck-a-Puck target and yelling "Boo" in my ear, please try to remember that we are all wired differently and have diverse interests. We can't help what we like. If everyone loved sports, tickets would never be available (or affordable), so be grateful for the dissenters, folks. I've always wished that I enjoyed sports, solely for the reason that the spectators are clearly having the time of their lives with other birds of their kind of feather. Have you ever watched people have a good time, wondering why you were the only one there who was miserable? It's like drinking alcohol and not feeling a buzz. Sadly, this is my history with any activity involving a ball, net, helmet, or wooden stick. I just wasn't 'getting it.' 

I've attended many sporting events over the years for my husband's sake, but only succeeded in making myself practically suicidal with boredom. I guess that's the real reason they don't allow weapons in stadiums, because the sport-haters would be taking turns using them on themselves. But everything changed on the day when my husband dragged me kicking and screaming to my very first Monsters game around the time of the Calder Cup finals. We arrived at the arena, collected our white towels for Twist Time, and I sat down in my cramped seat, wishing I was home doing almost anything but witnessing a sporting event. I just knew that I was going to be half a Prozac away from a nervous breakdown for the next three hours, and the thought of organizing my inbox of 907 emails into detailed categories was looking rather enticing. I logged in and began. 

The clock counted down, the lights went out, and suddenly the gigantic inflatable Monster made its presence on the ice. Thinking that this was going to be the highlight of my time there, I reluctantly put down my phone and watched the show. The crowd was going berserk, but as usual, I was sitting there wondering what the heck was wrong with me. The game began, and before I knew it, I realized that I was jumping out of my seat and yelling just as loudly as any crazy cheerleader whenever the Monsters scored a goal. I was actually having a good time!  The Monsters had won my heart. "Finally," I thought, "a sport I can appreciate! It's like Quidditch on ice!" I didn't know who was more astonished at my newfound love of a sport-me or my husband. He leaned over and said to me, "You are my wife, right? The opera-loving sports-hater?" I gave him a wry smile, then twirled my towel in the air. 

As the months passed, we kept returning to the games, and I grew to love hockey more and more, watching every hockey-related film we owned, from "The Mighty Ducks," to "Miracle." For the first time, I was viewing sports, or at least one of them, in a new light. I don't think most people can really remember the very first thrill they've experienced when they've discovered a newfound interest, especially when that interest was in a category that they initially hated. It's a heavy dose of pleasant surprise, like biting into a cheap hotdog and having it magically turn into a five-star filet mignon. I was really enjoying that filet mignon...until I found out that our amazing Monsters were being saddled with Cavs colors and a new name. Where's the nearest wall? I need to beat my head against something.

I find these changes as acceptable as a root canal without novacaine. The Monsters' following may not be as strong as Cleveland's other sports teams, but they are steadily gaining respect and the recognition they are entitled to. It's been a slow process, and may continue to be so for a long time yet. But how are they supposed to continue getting that fame if their fan attire becomes almost indistinguishable from Cavs merchandise? Now, every time I see someone walking down the street in burgundy and gold, I wonder what team they support. I should not have to wonder. I thought the point of team colors was to make the team stand out from all others. Sharing the stadium with the Cavs never helped the situation either, but at least our beautiful black and blue colors gave us an identity. Now it is lost. We, the fans, have been betrayed, and we are angry on behalf of our beloved team that has worked so hard to pave their path to victory. Let them have their identity back.

    

Andria Redlin

I am the author of "For Her Courage," which is available at www.Lulu.com. I've been an avid writer for the last twenty years, and I am currently working on a young adult fantasy series that is being edited by my friend and fellow author Deborah Glaefke Gilbert, a former professional editor and Cleveland State English professor. I also have a humor book in the works, along with another fantasy series.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 7:01 AM, 10.03.2016