- Can you think of any vivid example off the top of your head?
- I had a chance to attend an NHL game in New York. I am a professional athlete. I am supposed to judge an event from a professional point of view. Surprisingly enough, I found myself enjoying little things not directly pertaining to sports, like a spectacular environment, food, fans, cheerleading and video presentations. Three hours ticked off very fast. Lots of commercial breaks were a part of a big scheme designed to help clubs to sell their commercial time and entertain their fans. Musical accompaniment was paid attention to as well. All those standardized show biz devices attract the crowds. I may add that some hockey players themselves contributed to the razzle-dazzle in the house.
Talking about Khabarovsk. Our fans have seen many various competitions for the recent years, the bandy ones included. They have become real "connoisseurs" of the game, but looks like they also have gotten more more finicky, in a sense. We should go the distance for them in elaborating some good shows to attract them back to the stadiums.
You said that professional players overseas are very creative to add some spice to their presentation. Have you and your teammates thought about pioneering in adding some zest to your presentation on the ice as well?
- Not yet.
On your Insta you have a "questions-answers" column, where you reply to numerous questions asked by your fans. Are you really interested in doing it? How did it happen to come to fruition?
- I don't know how to answer properly...Blogging has become extremely popular. In my case, creating feedback was an obvious thing to do due to many questions being asked by my fans in their comments. Furtively borrowed from some other experienced bloggers, I guess. (laughing)
Sergey Pochkunov is becoming rather popular with his blog on Youtube. Do you want to follow his suit?
- Not really. Sergey is the first one ever to have launched such a thing in our sport. God bless him with that. It's very commendable of him. If he needs help I am ready to assist. In my opinion, it is a very good example of how our bandy clubs may improve their media coverage by reflecting from the different angle. They can do it by themselves or just invite Sergey for a couple of days to stay with a team and the management to give new insights into how the club machine works. There are many things, really, our fans are completely out in the left field with.
How do you respond to criticism coming your way?
- It's a good question. You know, I read a lot and don't miss those stinging remarks. I feel ambivalent about them. They piss me off sometimes, but on the other hand it's great to see people involved in the matters of our sport. If they have something to say, let them do it. One may pick any way of addressing to me, either telling me in person or yell from the stands. What matters is that those critical downpours must not be interrupted and spoken out in full. Let him or her make it public. I may not like it but I will cope with it.
Do you react to criticism?
- Yes, I do. Maybe I shouldn't and it's all wrong, but it's easier said than done being a regular human being.
You have been playing bandy for sixteen years. Have you noticed changes with our fans?
- Sure. One of them is caused by advent of indoor bandy arenas in Russia. When I arrived in Khabarovsk I saw it clearly how different local fans were from the others rooting for their teams outdoors. It's more of a family kind of feel to it. It's not as masculine as it used to be anymore. Understandable, that we have some long lasting members of our SKA fandom that have been with us for so many decades and experiencing some nostalgia for the outdoor bandy and fancy stuff that went along with it. The problem is that they become fewer and fewer, yet we don't enjoy many of the middle age devotees. We should find some ways to attract the younger segment of population to our side. So far we haven't succeeded much in it, which resulted in poorer attendance. If we will, than the statistics will hike.
I assume our fans were more good-mannered back in the day, but times, they are a-changing, you know. We observe more behavioral freedom in the public this days. it interferes with sports as well and that's the deal.