By Denise van der Bij
New York hosts ten major league sports teams. Among them there are some intense team rivalries. On January 10, the heated ice hockey game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders was played at the Madison Square Garden. Even though there were some fights on the ice and the Rangers fell to the Islanders (4-3), the atmosphere was surprisingly friendly, as always.
Michael Frazone (34) is standing right in front of the stadium, nervously waiting while wearing the famous blue jersey of the Rangers. “I am always excited for a game, but for this one even more. It is always a very special clash.” Michael was born and raised in New York, lived in Manhattan all his life and was raised a Rangers fan. He has visited every home game since he was 8 years old. “I grew up with my father taking me to ‘The Garden’ every week, I think I would’ve disappointed him if I would not have liked ice hockey.”
The game between the Rangers and the Islanders, also called ‘The Battle of New York’, has always been one of the most tensed games in the National Hockey League (NHL). “But since the Rangers have a losing season every year, the game is not as intense as it used to be. When you don’t win for 25 years, rivalry kind of fades away,” Michael tells.
The Rangers fan walks in the direction of Penn Station. “I have to pick someone up at the bus station. A friend who I am going to watch the game with,” he tells. After ten minutes he comes back, by his side a guy wearing white and orange clothing: the Islanders uniform. “Don’t look so surprised! Michael says laughing. Yes, we are going to watch the game together.”
“Fighting should be done on the ice only” Damian Quinn (36) – Islanders fan
Islanders fan Damian Quinn (36) and Michael Frazone have been friends since college. Damian tells: “We both studied in Connecticut and met in school. Then we found out that we were both actually from New York and that we both had a passion for ice hockey as well. Unfortunately, Michael supports the wrong team, but it’s cool. Sometimes there is tension, but that makes it even better. But what I don’t get is why people get into fights over a game. I think the fighting should be done on the ice only.”
When looking around, there can be seen that more people in orange and blue jerseys friendly walk together towards the main entrance of the stadium. When going to soccer matches in Europe, you won’t see that happen. Michelle Courtland (27) proudly wears her Islanders jersey while awaiting for the game to start. She grew up in Long Island, the home of ‘the Isles’. “As long as you are not looking for trouble, you’ll be okay. Of course, I have seen things happen here, but mostly the accidents that occur are between drunk people. Sometimes even from the same team.”
Rangers fan David Wasill (49) adds: “There are more cities that have two teams that clash in sports, but I think that New York is the only place in the United States where there is both a rivalry and mutual respect for the opponent.”
“New York is the only place where there is both a rivalry and mutual respect for the opponent in ice hockey” David Wasill (49) – Rangers fan
After the game, Rangers fan Michael Frazone and Islanders supporter Damian Quinn walk out of the stadium together and enter a bar close by to discuss the game. “The Rangers lost,” Michael sadly mentions. “The Islanders were just lucky, I mean, they didn’t play any better than we did.” Damian agrees: “I have to admit that it was an ugly game. But in the end the only thing that matters is the win.” Michael continues: “But the atmosphere was good. There was some fighting on the ice, we enjoyed the game together, we had a good time.” Damian: “Although I support the Islanders, the atmosphere in Madison Square Garden, for me, is the best atmosphere in the world. You won’t find anything like this anywhere else. We will see what happens on Saturday when we play the Rangers at our home.”