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Embrace hockey homerism

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Let's stop acting like hockey team bias is a bad thing.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it is finally October, so fans can stop asking if it's here yet. Fans can stop asking, teams can stop asking, social media coordinators can stop asking, marketing materials can stop asking, your cat can stop asking. "Is it October yet?" memes are one of the most annoying rituals hockey fans partake in every offseason, and by the time October actually rolls around, we're lucky if no related murders are reported.

Being a hockey fan isn't always an exercise in getting along. "Hell is other [hockey team] fans" often said, whether or not a hockey season is actually in progress. We have so much contact with each other these days that we're bound to get on each other's nerves. That's perfectly normal and to be expected, but sometimes, it's considered a huge negative.

It seems understandable-people who have a vested interest in a game will react too emotionally to goals, hits, missed open nets, etc. It makes us biased towards our team and clouds our judgement, especially when it comes to something like a bad hit by one of our own players. We're all homers to some extent, and sometimes that's seen as a huge character flaw.

What's so terrible about having a stake in the game's outcome, anyway? Is it really so bad to be on the edge of your seat for 60 minutes a night? Is it the worst thing in the world to get nervous when Alexei Emelin is out of position yet again? Is it wrong to eagerly anticipate some work of creative genius whenever Steven Stamkos has the puck? Is it wrong to be devastated when a season ends because of a fluke goal? Some people call it homerism, I call it being human.

Besides, even the most professional sportswriters have biases, although they might not align with those of the home team's fans, because even the most professional sportswriters are human beings. They just recognize their own biases and are able to keep them in check when it comes to doing their jobs. (To be clear, we're only talking about good sportswriters here.) The truth is that if you're not experiencing the excitement and anticipation and the crushing disappointment involved in every minute of a hockey game, you're just missing the point, and missing out on the sport.

So who cares what your biases are? It's finally (almost) time for a new NHL season, and your terrible team might turn it around this year, or your good team might finally get to the elite level this year, or your great team might repeat this year, or, you know, it could be more of the same. Put your heart on your sleeve and get excited. The beginning of the hockey season, before it all goes down the toilet, is the best time of the year. Being a hockey fan, whether you're a homer or not, is a joy, and so is everything that comes with it.

Except for that "Is it October yet?" thing. Let's fire that one into the sun.