Hockey’s hallow-fication of The Stanley Cup has been cartoonish for a while. It’s perhaps the pointy end of its #PleaseLikeMySport inferiority complex. “We play for a Cup while others play for a championship,” as if it wasn’t really the same fucking thing.
Yeah, of the four major sports the Stanley Cup is the coolest, and certainly the one that looks most deserving of a championship season. It’s a little weird to battle through 82 games, four rounds, and two months of playoffs, and then be handed the Larry O’Brien trophy that looks like something Picasso designed on the toilet five minutes before deadline. But that doesn’t mean winning it somehow means more than winning a World Series or Super Bowl. Sure looked like Tom Brady got drunk enough last February without a trinket to constantly lift over his head.
But there’s cartoonish, and then there’s fetishizing, which is what the Tampa Bay Lightning are apparently taking advantage of with this swingers’ fever dream:
So they’re gonna let you fuck it, right? I mean look at those bedroom set-ups. That’s the same setup as “Tonight’s Girlfriend.” Wine and dine with The Cup? Champagne? “Private time?” Come on, we know what’s going on here. Set off a tesla coil, indeed.
The way the Cup has been treated and described and handled crossed over into the same territory as the way princesses are described in every story from the Middle Ages some time ago. The way every player gets their night with it in a modern day, sporting interpretation of Prima Nocta. How you can’t touch it if you haven’t earned the right, are worthy of it, won its favor. Mel Brooks wrote all of “Men In Tights” about this (underrated Brooks film by the way). The careful handling of it by its guardians until the magical night in June is upon us, when it is “given” to the conquering heroes. It’s plain as goddamn day.
And we know what has happened to The Cup in the privacies of players’ homes and parties.
It’s beyond the players of course. Fans ravenously track its whereabouts in whatever city has won it that particular June. They flock to bars where they think it might be just to catch a glimpse, to be in its glow, perhaps just to get a whiff. Like it has some healing power. How they long to get a picture with it (yes, I have two, admittedly). Oh, won’t you please look my way, Stanley? Can’t I just be near you?
The Lightning have at last cut out all the pretense, the coded language. Spend a night in a posh hotel room we’ve created with it. Dance and drink next to it. Be alone with it. Make it a magical evening.
We know what they’re saying. We know what they’re offering. So go ahead, Bolts fans, fuck the Cup. It’s what you want.