Finding The Beauty In Sports

DeskIt is 3:00 AM. I finished reading Chapter 23 of James Duthie’s book, The Guy On The Left, twenty minutes ago and have been staring at the ceiling thinking about life, how good the leftover rice in the fridge will be tomorrow, and the smell of plastic bags, ever since. Don’t ask.

The light switch by the door is about two steps and an arm’s reach away, but it might as well be in the next town. Finally, I get up.

I take no more than one and half steps and I’m distracted. I’m like a kindergartener in the show Recess, who is running in the Kindergarten Derby and is easily distracted by the candy wrappers on the ground.

Whoever understood that reference is my new favourite person. Let me know who you are.

I’m distracted by my bookshelf and the close to 200 sports-related magazines and books that rest upon it. There are also some memorabilia and photos from when I was younger. Oh, and a French-English dictionary. Ou est la bibliotheque?

An Italian-English dictionary sits on my desk. True story. Prosciutto!

The magazines on my shelf go all the way back to at least 2003, maybe sooner. For the first time in forever, I picked one up and flipped through it. Then I picked up a book I’m pretty sure I got for Christmas about three years ago, but have never opened.

It’s called TSN 25 Years, which looks back on the major sports stories of the past 25 years (as of 2009). There’s no time like the present, especially if the clock reads 3:00 AM. So, I started reading the book flipping the pages to look at the pictures.

All of a sudden my whole life was flashing before my eyes. One page after another, memory after memory, the images and words in front of my face brought me back to a different time in my life.

Most of the stories in this book helped strengthen my passion for sports at an early age.

Wayne Gretzky’s final game in 1999 was one of the moments mentioned in the book. I was 7 years old at the time. I still remember watching that game, specifically the final minutes and Gretzky skating around the ice, waving at the fans for a final time.

Ever since then, I’ve never been able to listen to the song: “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith, without thinking of Gretzky’s final game. That song is one of the first songs they started playing as a teary-eyed Gretzky made multiple victory laps.

Seven-year-old Paul locked that memory in forever, it seems.

Another story I came across was of Saku Koivu, the long-time Montreal Canadiens captain, who made a remarkable comeback at the end of the 2001-2002 season. He was coming back from cancer.

Even though I’m a Leafs fan, that moment in Montreal between Koivu and the fans is one of my favourite moments in sport.

At this point, I had skimmed through enough of the book to get a bit of the “fresh book” smell out. So I got on my laptop and looked up Koivu’s return and Gretzky’s last game on YouTube, just to relive them one more time.

I started with Koivu and within seconds I had something in my eye. Probably dust.

Then I watched the final moments of Gretzky’s final game. Every image still the same as I always thought it was. Again, I had something in my eye. Definitely dust.

If someone were to ask me why I love sports, these are two great examples for me.

Those are my favourite kind of moments, both in sports and in life. The moments where you can just stand/sit, smile, and soak it in. They do not need an explanation, or anyone to tell you why they are special. You know it, and you feel it.

Those are the kind of moments that made me fall in love with sports in the first place. And they are the moments that happen far less often than they used to.

It’s sad that we live in a world where scandals, controversies, debates, and criticisms get all the attention while feel good stories are swept under the rug as quickly as possible.

None of those things make me say, “I love sports.” They just make me change the channel or continue scrolling.

Of course, I love sports for the competition, drama, rivalries, and story lines. But they are so much more than that.

When an athlete or an organization can go out of their way to put a smile on a kid’s face, I am reminded why I love sports. Kids can’t fake a smile. They don’t know how to, yet.

When John Scott got a standing ovation at the NHL Skills Competition yesterday, I was reminded why I love sports.

When I attended the Blue Jays first playoff game in 22 years last year, and felt like 50,000 people were some of my closest friends, I was reminded why I love sports.

When I saw my favourite player, Ryan Smyth, get traded from the Edmonton Oilers in 2007 and proceed to ugly cry at the airport, I was reminded why I love sports.

When the Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the New York Yankees in a seven game series, I was reminded why I love sports.

When Vince Carter took over the Slam Dunk Contest in 2000, I was reminded why I love sports.

When the fans in attendance at a hockey game in Toronto sang the American national anthem because the microphone didn’t work, I was reminded why I love sports.

When the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2001 and Joe Sakic called Raymond Bourque over to be the first one to hoist the Cup, I was reminded why I love sports.

When one of my campers couldn’t stop raving about sports and started listing off an entire roster of players, I was reminded why I love sports.

When I watched hockey games in residence with other Leaf fans and pushed the limits of “quiet hours”, I was reminded why I love sports.

And every time I re-watch Jim Valvano’s speech at the 1993 ESPY awards, I am reminded why I love sports.

These are the beautiful moments in sports that I look for.

I can watch hundreds of games, enjoy them, and then not remember a single detail about them a few days later.

The moments I look for, and truly appreciate, transcend any dialogue a broadcaster could ever put in my ear, on my social media feed, or in my head.

They are the kind of moments that go right to the heart. And anyone, sports fan or not, can feel them.

 

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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15 Responses to Finding The Beauty In Sports

  1. Barb Knowles says:

    You are the most passionate when you’re writing about sports. I still say you should do this professionally. Guest contributor? And I agree with you 100% ( don’t you like it when people say that) that the positive, feel good stories are short-lived, if we even see them before they are swept under the rug. Another reason why I love Miracle…..because I remember the actual Olympic games so vividly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I guess when we see a positive story, it doesn’t really need words to describe it. And if there are no words to read or say, then it goes away faster than a negative story that always has a million different opinions to sort through. Such is life, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You had me at Red Sox.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul, I wholeheartedly agree. Nostalgia is great and sports nostalgia particularly so—at least for me, and apparently for you as well. I have some great childhood memories from sporting events and wonderful memories from adulthood too. I have stacks of memorabilia in the form of old magazines, programs, and collectible pins. When I look through them they bring back wonderful memories with family and friends. :O)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      That’s awesome! I have a stack of tickets to just about every game I’ve ever attended. Don’t think a day will ever come where I feel like throwing them out.

      Like

      • I know how you feel. I have tickets from all three no-hitters thrown in 1975—I was at each one of them too. All were on the West Coast. Also I witnessed Rickey Henderson passing Lou Brock for the stolen base record in 1991 against the Yankees. Received a certificate showing him superimposed over Lou Brock stealing a base upon leaving The Coliseum in Oakland. prize possessions and great memories.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. George says:

    A book, life, leftover rice and the scent of a plastic bag. That’s one heck of an opening statement. And no, I won’t ask..:)
    Sports can be mundane at times, and then, without warning, it can transport you to another place that you’ll never forget. Watching it on TV with all the instant replays and different angle shots is pretty cool, but there is nothing like being at a live sporting event when something special happens. When your team wins a Super Bowl because Scott Norwoods kick is wide right and everyone around you instantly becomes family, when Aaron Boone unexpectedly hits a tenth inning home run to beat the Red Sox in the seventh game of the ALCS and you felt the old stadium rock and a deafening sound escape from it that you never heard before, unexpected comebacks, amazing performances, all live. There’s nothing quite like that feeling or sound. That’s what it’s all about. The kind of feeling that’s hard to duplicate anywhere else. When your football team pulls off a Super Bowl miracle twice in five years by beating an 18-0 team and another that no one thought you had a chance
    winning.
    That’s why I enjoy sports, anticipating the unexpected. That’s why they play the games. That’s why I watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for this wonderful comment, George! There is nothing like being there in person for memorable moments like the ones you mentioned. It’s almost as if life stops and allows these moments to take over and sink it, so we remember them forever.

      “Anticipating the unexpected”…couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. LosiLosLoco says:

    Most certainly true. While I’m not a sports person (sorry Paul :/) I do understand that feeling. Just good will and the beauty of human tenderness towards other humans. It’s contagious. It’s love. It’s what makes me love moments like the ones you listed without necessarily acknowledging they’re sport related.
    Thanks for posting! And you should probably cry that dust out. Easy way to fix the incoming irritation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lorieb says:

    With three brothers growing up and three sons now, my life revolves around sports. I am familiar with each of the reminders you listed too. My favourite was watching Joey Bats toss that bat and all of Canada going crazy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wonder if paul is a fan of basketball because I’m a fan of Chicago bulls. Wish they have another chance in making it to the finals. But no, not this year

    Like

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