One of the more interesting things about writing here is the number of regular readers and commenters who are spread throughout the world. Even though 75% of our daily traffic is Alberta-based, 75% of our regular commenters are not based in Alberta. Aside from the Oklahoma City traffic, a large percentage of those regulars come from the GTA and the second largest group comes from the Vancouver Metropolitan Area. While Canada east and west make up the vast majority of non-Albertan readers, visitors from Chicago, Boston, Dublin, London, Helsinki, Stockholm, Dubai, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, and Auckland stop in on a daily basis.
The incredible Ellen from A Theory Of Ice wrote about the difficulties of being a fan in the aether.
This is my one great regret about becoming a diaspora fan. I cannot properly watch the games. The other side of the world is not what it once was, thanks to the miracle of the internet, but it is still something.
It is still something. Rather than wait for a few hours until a game is over and the wire service has a chance to publish a brief recap, the diaspora can watch in real time via NHL's Gamecenter, and even hear the hometown play-by-play man. But there remains a problem - the diaspora is still forced to watch the games alone. Hockey is now and always will be a communal experience, watching with someone else helps make the shared experience more meaningful because a chance exists that they very next play will be a special moment, an amazing hit or some jaw-dropping play and a large part of being a fanatic is the shared experience.
When a fan is part of the hometown, rooting for the hometown team, they are able to access a common bond when meeting someone for the first time and they are able to draw on that bond repeatedly. Ellen addresses this as well.
This shared habitus is powerful. It’s part of what gives you the sense that you know these people, although you’ve never met.
I believe Ellen has put her finger on the reason for our visits from all over the globe - there are Oiler fans in isolation, seeking a shared experience, one they aren't going to get in Beijing or Boston, so they seek that sense of community online at their favorite blog, sometimes Copper & Blue. In doing so, they avoid the common trap of ex-pats, at least according to Ellen:
A lot of expatriates lose all substance of NHL fandom. They retain a sort of ghost of an allegiance, but it’s mainly a sartorial thing- a few pieces of licensed gear to be dragged out in nostalgic moments, or as a kind of trap to lure other expats into conversation… So you’re from Edmonton? The team loyalty survives as a component of identity, but not as a practice.
Staying connected to people from Edmonton helps to retain the fanaticism, staying connected to other fans helps to learn, shape and form opinions on the team. Message boards help them to vet what they've seen or heard, to vent frustrations, and to celebrate successes.
If you're from Edmonton, use the next Game Thread to find out where everyone resides. Find the guy from Dubai, ask about Beijing, and ask if the fellow from New Dehli has ever run into another Oilers fan in India. If you're checking in from out of town, let us know, let our readers know by writing a FanPost. Maybe there's another lurker in the corners of The Copper & Blue from your town - maybe there's a local bar where Oiler fans gather to share their misery and hope on the future. Or maybe organize an ex-pat meetup or drinkup. The last group of Ontario-based fans that did so had a great time, even if Pat had to disown his son.
Besides, the shared experience gives those of us stuck in our mother's basement something to do, and someone to talk to.