Thursday, October 16, 2014

GOTTA LOVE SPORTS


I am going to give you, Dear Reader, fair warning that this week’s column is all about sports so if you’re not a sports fan and you’d rather be doing something else then go ahead… I won’t mind, I know it’s not everyone’s cup o’ tea.

            I actually cannot remember not watching or playing sports. Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around the Hubbard family sitting in front of the TV eating popcorn while watching Hockey Night In Canada every Saturday night with Ward Cornell hosting and Foster Hewitt or Danny Gallivan doing the play-by-play.

            Baseball was a little different because, until 1971, all of the World Series games were played during the day so it was a little trickier trying to view those games. Between squinting to see the fuzzy black and white images in the bright middle-of-the-day sunshine and the fact that there was something called SCHOOL keeping me out of the house I had to be creative to see or hear the games. October was always a great time for earaches, or something, if you know what I mean? Wink, wink. If we were really, really, lucky and it wasn’t often that it happened, we’d get a teacher who was a baseball fan and they’d play a radio in the classroom while we did arithmetic or spelling or some other exhilarating task.

            There are a couple of times during the year, usually spring and fall, when so many sports are being played at the same time making it a sports lover’s dream and a home handyman’s nightmare.

            The CFL schedule is ramping up with the playoffs just around the corner and every game is crucially important and there are only four teams left in the hunt for the World Series Championship so every pitch, at bat and out are also crucially important. And to top it off the NHL season, which I will acknowledge could be a couple of months shorter, (I know…Canadian blasphemy), just kicked off its too long regular season schedule last night. Not to mention the National Football League season is on, too, and they’re still playing golf and tennis and soccer and …See what I mean?

            A few months ago at work the “powers that be” installed a couple of televisions in the lunchroom but the TV’s are tuned in to a live streaming news channel. Continuously. All of the time. News. Bad news. Depressing news. Numbingly depressing news. I’ve taken to sitting with my back to the TVs in an effort to abstain from watching them. You know how hard it is to keep your eyes off of a television set, don’t you? Anyway, not watching the news as much has helped me avoid visits to a mental health practitioner or going on Paxil or some other anti-depressant.

That’s another reason I choose to watch sports. It’s a diversion. I like to know what’s going on in the world but I don’t need to be saturated with the stuff.

Sports are a huge part of our world. They enhance economic growth, they are, as previously mentioned, a diversion from the ills of the world, they promote camaraderie and loyalty and confidence and health.

Studies have also shown that organized sport programs contribute to reducing youth crime and sports are used as a rehabilitation tool for offenders as there exists a widespread belief in the therapeutic value of sports.

I am not alone in this sports loving fanaticism. Look around you. It’s everywhere and zillions of people love it. Playing sports or watching sports, either one, or both. My advancing age may be slowing my playing days down a little but it sure isn’t interfering with my sports viewing.

Come to think of it, I think I’ll cook up a batch of popcorn, grab a cool beverage and find some game to watch right now. It’s not 1962 anymore so there’ll be plenty to choose from and all in high definition. Ahhhhhh the life.

“I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.”- Earl Warren (1891-1974).

 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

THANKSGIVING THOUGHTS

Everyday we’re inundated with world news headlines regarding the escalating fight against ISIS (the Sunni jihadist extremist group active in the Middle East), the Ebola virus outbreak, the Ukraine/Russia crisis, the scary spreading of the D68 enterovirus and, even scarier, the mass media’s relentless coverage of all things Rob and Doug Ford.


Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’m more scared of the news that’s being covered or the way the news is being covered; but that’s a story for another time.

As we head into another Thanksgiving weekend we are asked to sit and reflect on the many things that we can be thankful for. To me, we should do this pretty much every day but, when forced, many will have to do it at least once a year. And that time is now.

It should go without saying but looking at the above headlines I am very happy and thankful for this little piece of the planet where I live. No war, no famine, no Ebola…yet; ditto regarding the D68 enterovirus, but, for the most part, we’ve got it pretty good around here in spite of the poor harvest weather and some recent local criminal behaviour. I am thankful to be living in clean, comfortable and safe Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I am thankful that we are heading into one of the best times of the year to be a sports fan. I know, I know, you regular readers of this column are going to be getting bored with this stuff already but, c’mon…the Major League Baseball playoffs are in full swing right now and the World Series is right around the corner, the puck is dropping on a brand new National Hockey League Season and my Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t lost a game, yet, or spun themselves out of a playoff birth, or anything, and the final crucial games are being played in the Canadian Football League with the ‘Riders in shaky shape, because of the loss of quarterback Darian Durant, but they are still in a solid playoff position as we speak. For this sports fan there is a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful that we don’t have a foot of snow on the ground. I am thankful that Highway 48 was finally paved giving me a smooth ride all the way to work. I am thankful for the new integrated health facility and I am grateful for the many health care workers providing excellent care to area residents. I am thankful that my health is pretty darn good for an old feller, if I say so myself.

I am thankful that Saskatchewan isn’t threatened by earthquakes or tsunamis or hurricanes or volcanoes or brush fires or mud slides and that the worst natural disasters that we might see around these parts could be the occasional tornado or some spring flooding or maybe the odd drought.

I am grateful to be part of a large family, or families, as it were. I am happy to be a partner in a still-happy-thirty-three-year-old marriage. I am happy and thankful that we have three great kids, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and four wonderful grandchildren.

As earlier stated, we shouldn’t have to wait until the Thanksgiving weekend to vocalize what we can be thankful for but if that’s what it takes then let’s all take a few moments during the upcoming holiday weekend to remind ourselves of some of the little, or big, things in our life that we can truly be thankful for.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”-William Arthur Ward (1921-1994).



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