by Franklin McWhittle
Oh, the children just will not listen to me. I have warned them about
the dangers of street hockey, but they insist on playing on the street
at all hours of the day, sometimes well into dusk, despite the constant
presence of the reckless 30-kilometer per hour (sometimes 40, I bet)
Third Avenue traffic. Sure, they're not my kids, as my partner Cynthia
and I are "childless by choice," as the bumper sticker on
our Saturn says, but I still feel it my duty to warn them, as it's
painfully obvious their parents don't seem to care. Look at them-running
around on the street like a horde of rural mongrel dogs. Don't their
parents see what that kind of activity can do to property values?
Last weekend, with my better judgement removed by a combination
of an hour's worth of grueling yardwork and two twist shandies,
and in direct contradiction to my heretofore consistent beliefs
about such plebian activity, I foolishly thought I'd attempt to
be a sporting neighbor and join in the Saturday afternoon game.
Now, I'm no Jacques Villeneuve or anything, but I was fairly certain
I could hold my own. I even went through the trouble of making a
pre-match trip to Home Hardware to buy a stick and various other
hockey accoutrements, including shin pads, a helmet, a
cup, as it is so euphemistically called, gardening gloves to protect
the piano fingers, and a pair of skate guards, which the sales clerk
told me were indispensable, although I'm starting to have my doubts.
My inhibitions were clearly out the window, as I completed my faux
jock look by purchasing a team sweater. I'm not sure which team
it was, but it featured a stylized 'C' on the chest that somewhat
resembles a horseshoe placed on its side, with an 'H' in the middle.
(perhaps the Czech Republic?) After all, I didn't want to stand
I will be the first to admit that my relations with the neighbors
have not always been rosy. I get the feeling that many of them view
me as some sort of egghead. However, I saw this as an opportunity
to fit in like one of the boys. After pausing to scold those reprobate
Johnson children for their cheekiness and audacity, (they called
me a "wanker" of all things-not a wise thing to say to
a grown man with a stick) I was ready to play.
As the game commenced, I was astonished to discover the inequality
in the play. The players, both children and adults alike, were firing
in goals from all corners of the street, not paying any regard to
how many goals any of them had scored already. Henry McCombs from
two doors down must have scored seven goals before I even touched
the tennis ball with my stick!
As a man who believes in social justice, I have always been a proponent
of equity in sports. Now I didn't expect my protestations to get
anywhere with the adolescents, but it appears as though their parents
are also supercharged, ultra competitive baboons. I tried to point
out the fact that many of the players had scored multiple goals,
while others, myself included, had yet to score. Nobody should be
permitted to score more than one goal until all players have scored
one, I argued. That's the way it's done in the NHL, as I pointed
out to them, but alas, inclusiveness is not part of these people's
vocabulary. It was like I was back in high school again. It's little
wonder I have never understood sports.
Posted on June 15th, 2001