Sunday, December 03, 2006

"LHC" and Swedish Sports





Those of you that know me well are aware that following and occasionally playing sports takes up far too much of my mind and time. I was under the illusion that coming halfway across the world might add a deeper dimension to my life and reduce my interest in American sports. Well, thanks to the wonders of the internet, my sports following has remained at the "overly preoccupied" level all through autumn and an exciting college and NFL American football season. Picture #4 above is a special Linköpinglivin tribute to my UCLA Bruins and one of the best games I've ever seen, no matter where in the world I was watching. Down goes Troy!

Now back to Linköping. This weekend I attended my first "Sverige Ishockey Liga" match between the hometown Linköping Hockey Club ("LHC") and last place Malmö at the new Cloetta Center here in Linköping. The Cloetta Center is just a few years old and a fantastic place to watch hockey (since I'm such a conoisseur of hockey arena enjoyment). With a capacity of 8,000 seats, the Cloetta Center is large enough to be a respectable arena and small enough to make every seat a good seat and to feel like you're a part of all the action. Everything else (food, accessability, parking, entertainment) was all very similar to the previous arena experiences I have had (the last hockey game I attended was at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2003). On this day, Malmö played tough and LHC had to show some grit just to end in a tie, 3 - 3.

Overall, football (I am confident enough in my American readers not to have to qualify what "type" of football I am referring to) is the dominant European sport and Sweden is no different. Ice hockey and other winter sports are the focus all winter and track & field is very popular during summer. Cloetta Center-sized arenas are all over the country and Stockholm and Gothenburg have larger stadiums and arenas for the larger populations.

My sense is that sports are not as much of a cultural obesession here as they are in the U.S. Trying to explain to Europeans why we care so much about 18 - 22 year-olds who play sports is a challenge and also helps to put things in perspective, but generally they understand the "these are athletes that don't get paid and simply love to play" argument, though I know that this argument is questionable with the current state of college football and basketball. Yet the fans at the Cloetta Center clearly love their Linköping Hockey Club--love that White Lions cheering section--and I hear that roughly 10 million out of 14 million Swedes and Finns watched their teams clash for the gold medal in last year's Winter Olympics. The Blue and Yellow prevailed--keep up the love, Sverige!

And as for UCLA, #1 in basketball rankings and the de-throning of the crosstown rival isn't a bad way to head into the holidays with my Trojan-heavy family. See you in a couple weeks.

"Jul" has descended upon Sweden. Watch for that blog entry coming soon.

And that's a friend, Andreas, in the picture with me above. Thanks for my welcome to Linköping, Andreas. Go LHC!

9 comments:

Markus said...

Hey there!

Im really sorry that you had to watch that crappy game against Malmö. 3-3 is a horrific result! Normaly we should have beaten them by 3-4 goals!

Anyway, Cloetta Center has a capacity of 8 500. Im glad you liked White Lions, although I personally think we did an awful job that game. You should come back to Cloetta Center and see LHC in a better game (Timrå 29/12 for example) and I'll promise you that we i White Lions will give the teams and the people in the arena a night to remember! Im a boardmember of White Lions and we've got some extra sh*t going for that game! ;)

Cheers!

Mom said...

Hooray Bruins!!! As you said, Sean,a GREAT game for us UCLA fans and alumni no matter where you watched it!! Hooray for the blue and gold (including the beautiful blue and yellow of the Swedish flag!!!)
Love,
Mom

Anonymous said...

GO LHC!!! Even though our little team donesn't play very well at the time we in Linköping are really proud of LHC, which wasn't half as good only a couple of years ago. I belive they will soon return from their little depression, beat the hell out of all the other teams and WIN GOLD!!!
I don't know very much about typical USA sports, such as american football (why is it called football when you're allowed to use your hands??!) or baseball. But I know you have a lot of great hockeyteams over there and I guess Cloetta center must seem very small to you. But I'm glad you liked it =)
Keep on following LHC live and keep blogging.
By the way, we usually don't say "Sveriges hockeyliga", it's called "Elitserien"

Todd said...

Dear Linkoping citizens -

If you've read Sean's blog, then you know he frequents your cafes and Fika dwellings. So just for fun...and becuase I can't do it myself...if you see him in a cafe (he'll be wearing yellow and Bruin blue eating McDonald's french fries)...look at him and scream "Fight on Trojans!" You may not know what this means, but it doesn't matter. Trust me...he'll enjoy it.

It's not that I'm a fan of the Trojans...quite the contrary (your welcome Mom!)...I just want to bug him a little.

Sincerely, his loving brother.

Manieri said...

sean

i have just read your page ... i am in va now ... living with my mom and dad ... until january when i move to richmond ...

so much has happened ... i cannot wait to visit you ... look forward to the cafe's ...

lets talk soon.

manieri

sarah said...

Seany, i am so glad that you are able to feel just a little bit of joy from your dearest bruin’s latest victory. Isn’t it nice to cheer on a winning team? Isn’t it nice to know that that your team is triumphant and has crushed another totally undeserving opponent? Isn’t in nice to be a winner? Even if it is short lived and even though the Trojans totally gave you the game. Welcome to the world of being a Trojan fan, even it if it is only for a brief moment. Welcome to the life of a winner, it won’t last long- Go Trojans!!!!( and the Lakers for that matter)

Sorrowgirl said...

Reply to Todd:
I sure will do that =)
I "fikar" very often and hope to see Sean.

Scott said...

Glad you got to enjoy the game (and what a game it was!) I hope the res life in Sweden is treating you well.

Andreas said...

We must find a suitable time for watching a floorball game as well Sean!
Also, check your mail...

Lev väl!
/Andreas