Spending all day – every day – immersed in sports is a bit like working at Pizza Hut and eating nothing but pizza. If one is unburdened by such matters as personal health and waistline size, pizza is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, too much of a wonderful thing is likely to leave one no longer believing the wonderful thing to be all that wonderful.
Sports are really, really great. However, the more time you spend reading and writing about a topic, the greater the chance its ugly little cracks and cobwebs will begin to emerge. This is why, over time, the focus of writers and fans alike becomes embittered by the more negative aspects of sports. The cheating. The discrimination. The exploitation. The inequality. It all becomes overwhelming. We forget why sports are so great, and why they fascinated us long before we grew caustic to what they could offer. And so, that’s where The Week In Sports Happiness comes into play.
Every week, I’ll present the ten things that are making me happy from the world of sports. It might be a particular article, it could be a winning streak, it may even be an animated GIF. No matter what, it’s from sports, it made me feel good inside, and I hope it does the same for you.
There’s a lot to be written about the associations one might draw between a way of life and patriotism that at times verges on nationalism. This isn’t really the time for that, though.
In Boston, after bombings killed three people and injured more than 130 others at the Boston Marathon, it’s time for the people of the city to come together. If singing the national anthem before their Bruins play ice hockey tonight draws hurting people closer together, and allows them to feel stronger after such a devastating moment of vulnerability, then sing, sing, sing and sing some more.
A special nod of awareness goes to Rene Rancourt who could’ve made singing the U.S. National Anthem on this day a memorable performance of his own. Instead, he refused to make it about him, and shared the moment with the people of his city. Very, very well done.
The old adage that you don’t pick your team as much as your team picks you is nonsense. There is a reason why you chose to become a Calgary Flames fan, or a Denver Broncos fan or, a Los Angeles Clippers fan, or, god forbid, a Chicago Cubs fan. It’s just not easily comprehended. To paraphrase Canadian writer Hugh MacLennan in a fashion for which he no doubt never intended: There is no simple explanation for the team you chose to support, the sports fan’s irony consists in the necessity of a decision made under the pressure of compulsions so obscure we do not and cannot understand them.
I have no idea why I loved the Boston Bruins as a child. The typical motivations don’t exist. My dad didn’t love the Boston Bruins. He didn’t hate the Boston Bruins, either. I didn’t get to watch a whole lot of Boston Bruins games. I didn’t know anyone else who supported the Boston Bruins. However, they were my favorite hockey team from an early age, and I loved their best player dearly.
When I was a kid, I was a fast runner. This had little to do with any inherent athletic ability, and a whole lot more to do with a gangly frame that allowed for larger strides than my diminutive-by-comparison classmates. What would take a typical twelve-year-old 100 steps could be easily accomplished by me in 75.
As such, I was invited to try out for the elementary school track team. I was a nervous wreck prior to the 100 metre dash that would decide my fate as either a future Olympic sprinter or just another schlub. After getting out of the blocks, within three steps of the starting line, I had slipped, fallen over spectacularly and taken out two other runners.
It was awful.
On the ground, with knees scraped and my head down, I heard nothing but laughter. As I looked up, I began to scan the crowd for at least one sympathetic face. As my eyes reached the two teachers in charge of this horrible track and field enterprise, I saw that they too had avoided even the slightest effort to stifle their laughter. I went home early that day because I was “sick.”
The only positive aspect found in all of this was that it happened before YouTube was accessible to cruel adolescents, and therefore the memories of my failure lasted only in the legend spun by classmates rather than a shaky video somewhere. A couple of weeks later it was forgotten by everyone, but me. I now carry this as the most memorable moment of my adolescence.
This week, on a much larger scale, there were two incidents of failure in professional sports that sparked the type of derisive laughter that sticks to a subject’s soul.