It’s Exciting and Sexy, Too
By KIKI OLSON
(Ms. Olson is a well-known Philadelphia area free lance writer)
The night I saw my first lacrosse game, I was somewhat delirious, had glazed eyes and from what my friends tell me, I kept uncontrollably jumping up and down. It wasn’t that I was carting a bad case of flu bugs to the Spectrum, it was just that it was Sunday, May 19th and the Flyers had just won the Stanley Cup and everyone who was there lined up somewhere on Broad Street or anywhere else in the environs of this city has a pretty good idea of the kind of fever I as experiencing.
As we were all still going slightly nuts, workmen were turning the hockey ice into a Kelly Green wooden arena, and a few minutes after 8 p.m. out comes this team called the Wings. They’re wearing bright orange and white jerseys and are about to try to follow one of the toughest acts in sports history. I didn’t know who these guys were, where they were from and had only the vaguest recollection of what the game was about when they started warming up.
I calmed down a bit to notice what was going on. “Gorgeous,” I said to myself, “this game needs the grace of a gazelle, the strength of a couple of bears and plenty of true grit. Looks a lot like hockey—only rougher. Wow, I’m going to love it.” And I did. That night, their first game in Philadelphia, resulted in a big win over Montreal, and the Wings have been forging ahead game after game ever since to find themselves here in the national championship playoffs.
I’ve been coming to as many Wings’ games as I could get to during this fabulously exciting first season and have noticed the growing interest of women fans in the game. Recently, someone asked why I thought so many female fans were enjoying the sport so much. Well, I could have said that it’s because it’s fast-paced, exciting and to someone who wasn’t really into the intricacies of sports, it’s relatively easy to follow. I could have even gone into my “graceful as a gazelle” routine while I was at it. all these things are certainly what attracts women—as well as men and kids to the Spectrum but lacrosse is even more than that—it’s sexy too.
Sexy in a wholesome, sort of old-fashioned way. Like the kind of appeal Gable had in “It Happened One Night” or more recently like the kind Redford put across in “The Sting.” After all, what woman—liberated, unliberated or parked somewhere in the middle—can resist the appeal of a fearless hero who goes into battle ready to knock off the other bloke’s block for an ideal, a cause or a team effort. Yet, off the field have the gentleness, graciousness and even a little bit of the shyness that seems to have gone out with the Knights of the Round Table.
The Wings are all like that and I feel fortunate to have known some of them off the playing field. Like Carm Collins who is reputed to have more killer instinct than Dave Schultz. Sitting across from a woman wearing his brown velvet suit, chatting in that soft Canadian accent, Carm is one of the most ingenuous and quietly charming men in Philadelphia. Or scrappy Jimmy Wasson who has taken on opponents twice his size. Jimmy takes one long look at you with those young, seemingly innocent eyes and you want to take him home and look after him forever.
What more can I say? Besides bringing their undeniable courage, technical ability and sports savvy to our city, the Wings have also taken with them a certain freshness, enthusiasm and zest for playing a game as well as living a life. As a sports fans—and a woman—I’m glad we’ve got them.