1. Tickets are dirt cheap
Hockey tickets are on the very short list of things-like mani/pedis and drop-off laundry- that are actually cheaper in New York (well, at least in Brooklyn). The Islanders retail ticket prices rank 20 out of 30 teams for the 2016-2017 season, and having the league’s third worst attendance means even cheaper seats are readily available through resellers like StubHub and SeatGeek. Unless they’re playing the Rangers, fans can typically get into week night games for less than $20 and weekends for less than $30. And if you can keep yourself from buying $12 beers at the game, that’s probably a cheaper night than the last time you went out to eat with friends.
2. Hockey is the best
If you’ve never watched hockey before, it’s pretty easy to follow but also incredibly fast-paced and dynamic. It has all the teamwork and quick offense to defense shifts that you love from basketball and soccer plus the physicality of football, and unlike a baseball game, you’re guaranteed to get out in about 2.5 hours. Hockey rules also allow for two of the most dramatic plays in sports: Power Plays, where the teams play 5 on 4 after one team’s player has received a penalty, and Shoot Outs, where players skate in one-on-one to shoot at the goalie in order to determine the outcome of a game. Plus, there are fights.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Tony X. whose discovery of hockey last spring (as documented on Twitter) is a testament to how instantaneously engaging the game is.
3. Free stuff
Who doesn’t love free stuff? The team frequently gives away t-shirts, hats, and rally towels to the first few thousand fans in attendance. If you’re wondering just what you would do with a Stanley Cup Banner rally towel, keep in mind that they make excellent reusable hand towels or cleaning rags, allowing you to go green while showing off your Islanders pride. Perhaps the most coveted giveaway this season was a bobblehead of Ralph Macchio, a long time Islanders fan best known to for playing the Karate Kid. The bobblehead is currently going for $49.99 on eBay, which would more than recoup the cost of admission (see #1).
4. Get outside the bubble
Looking for a way to make good on your post-election promise to meet people whose political views differ from yours? Hockey has a traditionally blue-color fan base and that fact, coupled with the trains full of Long Islanders descending upon the arena for game nights, make Islanders games one of the places in Brooklyn that you’re most likely to encounter someone who voted for Donald Trump. Before the election there were even outbursts of “Make America Great Again” during the National Anthem. And what better place to find common ground with your fellow citizens than whilst cheering on a bunch of angry Canadians? Plus hockey is one place where the destabilizing influence of Russia has been a given for more than two decades.
5. Liking the Islanders requires irony
The biggest thing that unites Brooklyn hipsters and Isles fans is a well-developed sense of irony. Let’s face it: you can’t be an Islanders fan for long without be able to laugh at the organization’s frequent missteps and misfortunes. First, there’s the arena itself which, because it wasn’t built for hockey, features an off-center scoreboard, sections full of limited view seats, and barely a sign that the Islanders play there. Oh yeah, and a truck gets to sit in prime view seats (though its witty Twitter account almost makes up for the annoyance. Again irony).
But then there’s the team’s history. Despite winning four Stanley Cups in a row from 1980-1983, for the past three decades the Islanders have been plagued by money problems, poor management, an aging arena, and outright bad luck. Just to give you an idea: in 1996 the team was sold for $165 million to a Texas businessman who was worth nowhere near that much, but who was able to ward off suspicion for months by writing checks that for some reason had only three 0’s when they should have had six.
So go ahead Brooklynites- get yourself some cheap tickets on StubHub, get your free rally towel and go out and root for the Islanders at Barclays. You’ll definitely be able to say you were doing it before it was cool.