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John Pence: What I’d change about the Capitals (D.C. Sports Fan Contest, Round 1)

John Pence is one of the nine finalists in The Washington Post’s Greatest D.C. Sports Fan Contest. For Round 1, we asked our contestants to tell us what one thing they would change about one of D.C.’s professional sports teams. Read John’s response below, then tell us in the comments if you think he should be one of the six finalists to continue to the next round of competition.


If the Capitals organization is truly working to “Build America’s Hockey Capital,” they should consider resurrecting a forgotten yet respected historical aspect of the game. In our uber-interactive entertainment world where teams bend over backwards to find ways to connect with fans, it’s ironic that one of the game’s basic staples of fan interaction has become extinct. I urge the Caps to bring back the decibel meter.

As a younger, casual fan just learning the game of hockey, keeping an eye on the decibel meter at the old saddle-shaped Capital Centre in Landover was an enjoyable accent. As I recall, receded into the darkness of the stands, the bright mini-bulb lit registry was constant, with rotating lights that blazed on over the boxy unit as the noise level climbed into and sustained triple digits. The meter was never a distraction and it always served to enhance the game day experience. More importantly, it was the one aspect of the game that the fans themselves controlled.

Anyone who has attended a game at the Verizon Center knows that the team occasionally uses a canned, pre-programmed decibel graphic on the giant screens at center ice to simulate rising noise levels. But this stunt doesn’t sell me on the actual arena volume. Ticket holders are already told (literally, on the back of the ticket itself) that we “ASSUME ALL RISKS AND DANGER OF PERSONAL INJURY AND ALL OTHER HAZARDS ARISING FROM OR RELATED IN ANY WAY TO the event for which this ticket is issued.” If that’s true, why deny fans a piece of retro hockey cool?

While entertaining and necessary, much of today’s game-day experience is canned and presented to fans in a scripted blueprint meant to ensure raucous player introductions, drive attendee volume coming out of television commercial breaks and to prime the crowd for power plays. Complementing the dedication of those who “Rock The Red,” a permanent decibel meter would serve as a nightly testimonial of that intensity. We would also be able to prove unequivocally that the Phone Booth is indeed louder than Madison Square Garden.

Weigh In:  Tell us what you think of John’s argument in the comments. Our judges will choose six of the nine finalists to advance to Round 2 based on a combination or your comments and their opinions. Does John deserve to advance? Why or why not?

Read each contestant’s Round 1 essay

Scott Allen | Allison Bagot | Mike Kerdock | John Mann | Michael Ortman | John Pence | Mike Rapier | Tracy Tran | Colin Wilcox

Meet the finalists

Scott Allen| Allison Bagot | Mike Kerdock | John Mann | Michael Ortman | John Pence | Mike Rapier | Tracy Tran | Colin Wilcox

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