Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Geek Olympics

OK... I will admit it. I'm a Winter Olympic junkie. Not so much the Summer Olympics... only the Winter ones. This dates back to my childhood before coverage was quite so ubiquitous and overwhelming. Back when I was young and formational... not jaded and cynical. "Miracle" is required annual watching in our house. And I'm not beyond explaining the tactics of curling to my less than curious son.

I was watching with my daughter the other night and NBC cut away for one of their story pieces that inevitably involved some disabled sibling of one of the stars and how they pushed them to do better.

My daughter turned to me and said... "This is like a soap opera."

I responded, "Yes!!! But with sports!!!"

She rolled her eyes as she is wont to do. But she understood. And in fact, I understood for the first time. That little interchange was an epiphany of sorts for me. I love sports. I love competition. But I realize that one can spend too much time agonizing about them... cheering victory or rueing defeat. They are a waste of time. An escape. They do not profit my life. Nor do they add to the world.

And yet... they do. They are microcosms of life, cut and dried into one 60 minute game, or one 2 minute downhill run, or one toss of the stone. And NBC has gotten this for a long time. That the competition in a vacuum isn't worth much. But the competition with the background allows us all to grab on and empathize. To grab on to the epic battles that are life. They teach us to appreciate our own battles more fully.

On Sunday, I watched my son in an epic battle of his own. It was our own little Miracle on Ice... albeit on roller blades instead of skates. Our team fought and skated and played better than they have ever played in their life against the perennial champion team that is captained by one of the best young players in the country. My son in goal to challenge this Goliath. Our team got down. They fought back. They got ahead. My son making save after save, and the team entered the third period with a three goal lead. And then Goliath turned it on, picking top shelf shots that my son simply couldn't reach, and slamming slapshots as hard as he could. The defense was exhausted and my son was the last line of defense. And he began to crack. One goal. Then another... and a then a third to tie it. And then the unthinkable and this giant scored a fourth to take the lead. With a minute to go, my son was pulled to add an extra player in a desperate attempt to tie the game. And they somehow did. Sneaking a goal past their goalie. 10-10... and the game was going to overtime. The boys on my son's team were exhausted, having played so hard. And the other team attacked... the Goliath shooting from all sides... blocker save, pad save, stick save...

I watched it in slow motion, my heart hurting for what I knew would come. A pass from our defenseman that was a little too slow. Goliath jumped it... and then it was just he and my son. He faked forehand, and my son laid out trying to poke check it away... but Goliath calmly moved to his backhand and pushed the puck slowly into the goal in the six inch gap that my son left because he is just that much too short. Game over.

It was truly epic. But there are winners and losers. In the locker room he cried and in anguish looked at me and said "I don't want to do this anymore..." I knew the feeling... and I knew he didn't mean it. Because it is life. And more than anything in life sports teaches you that when the puck gets behind you and into the goal... it is truly behind you... and there is nothing you can do to change it. The only thing to do is get up and focus on the next puck coming at you.

And he did... in another hour he played his second game of the day against a different team, and made some of the greatest saves I've ever seen him make.

It is a soap opera... this life... but with sports.

OK.. off to watch me some curling.


  1. so many things and not enough coherent thoughts to put them all down. i look at my nephews and know if they played sports instead of video games that they would have a more developed sense of caring for others, pride and all the good things that sports do. unfortunately they went through a very painful and difficult divorce at a time these things plant the very best roots. it makes me sad.

    and though i didn't play sports - i loved the olympics as it brought a sense of pride in that a nation so diverse could come together on the teams and do fantastic, wonderful things. about 10 years ago, i had the honor of hearing a speech with that mary lou retton gave. she played a few minutes of the los angeles games and i can remember having chill bumps.

    would that we could all have that excitement and chill bumps in our lives.

  2. @char- there are great life lessons there. And I think I had a crush on Mary Lou when I was younger.

  3. I was surprised by how taken my son was with curling. He just wanted to know which team was ours, so he could chant, "Let's go USA!"

    He didn't even comment on the brooms/sweeping.

  4. @Mandy... Kids love it when you get to bang things together. Adults love it because you can actually make it to the Olympics with a beergut. I have to admit I've been using the word "fudgey" a bit much.

  5. I was born in Vancouver. I now live in Alberta.

    While I know people competing and people running & organizing the Olympics, by the time they began I was already fed up with them because of the overwhelming way Canadian broadcasting stations were ramming everything Olympic down our throats. I swear promotional ads ran 1/2 hr long.

  6. Tough loss for us last night, congratulations, USA. That doesn't mean it's over, but you played like a team, we played like a bunch of tools. Also, congrats on the medal count. MY country is not doing even half as well as expected, and that is disappointing, but at least we have some. :(
    I know how your son feels having played every sport known to man ( and some not known outside Canada - like curling used to be.) Anyhow, it is a fine line to have a child who plays and suffers a loss, and I was goal tender and back-catcher, so I too was the last line of defense, and no matter what people said, I took every loss personally. Does that mean I quit? nope. I just worked a little harder the next time, and made sure I waited til I got home to cry and say I didn't want to play any more. It must be so hard to watch that as a parent, however when it comes to hockey, I am sure that you are a great Dad/cheering section etc. with your love of sports and hockey in particular. Hopefully your son's next game will have a better result and he will remember part of the reason he plays, because of course, winning is not the only reason to play. It makes it better, but it's not the only reason. Good luck, little Mobius!

  7. I was thinking about you this morning and thinking how bummed out most of Canada must be this morning. But I agree... it is far from over. Superstar teams often play with too much pressure on them. And I can't think of more pressure than the Canadian team is under right now. I've been rooting for them since the beginning and I hope they pull it together.

    Mobius Jr. played his best game on Sat. The opposing coach came over and told him he looked like Ryan Miller. We were up by 4 goals in the first and the defense sort of went to sleep and allowed three straight breakaways... and he stoned all three and totally took the wind out of them.

  8. My Man is killing me with the late night Olympics viewing. I like's a lot. And there are other things on TV too. Well, not our TV. It's more of a hypothetical statement. The other night he flips it on, big disappointment. It's ice dancing. "Oh no" he says despondantly. But did we stay up till midnight watching it anyway? Oh yes.

  9. Im a little late...I dvr'd some of the games to fill space and boredom during the spring!