Friday, March 23, 2007


Existential Friday: Old Lions

I've tried my hand at a number of games and sports, and have found it to be a truth universally acknowledged that proficient players generally dislike playing with novices. This is true in chess, tennis, and golf. You might get the ace to play with you, but they're doing you a favor and it's a bit tedius for them.

A couple of years ago, I was player-manager on a recreational baseball team (baseball, not softball) comprising mostly law students. There was some talk among us about recruiting a ringer -- a law student who had actually had a cup of coffee in the show (a very brief stint in the Major Leagues). While it would have been unspeakably awesome for us recreational amateurs for him to join our team, it would have been an unbearable come-down for him, and he politely declined.

You get the idea. Competitors want the competition to be challenging.

Except in hockey.

But I'm continually astonished at how guys who played hockey at fairly high competitive levels -- high school varsity and even some college hockey -- are more than happy to come out and kick my slow, middle-aged ass around the rink. I think, "what fun could it possibly be for this 23 -year-old hot shot to steal the puck from the likes of me and blow past to make our goalie look stupid with an easy break-away goal?" And yet, there is "the Kid" coming back on a semi-regular basis to do just that, and seeming to enjoy himself. Okay, so it's not like it's Gretzky skating with our scrimmage group, but he might as well be Gretzky for all I can do to stop him.

The worst of it is that it awakens the Old Lions. The Old Lions are the 40- and 50- something one-time high school or college players who generally know how to ease up on the less experienced players and who save it for their old-guy leagues. But when the Kid joins our group, these old guys have to show that they "still have it." They can't help themselves. Suddenly, the "friendly scrimmage" facade drops away, and the game gets much, much rougher. And the inexperienced players like me are caught in this inter-generational hockey equivalent of a drive-by-shooting.

I plan to age more gracefully.

That last sentence is pure gold.

It really depends on the personality of the player. When I played golf in high school, some of the guys who were good, but not great, where the most miserable players to play with. However, a friend of mine who ended up playing Divison I golf, was the best to play a round with. He showed me many types of shots, worked with me on my game, and generally played for fun.

On the golf course, he was playing himself, challenging himself to think of different approaches. When he played with his dad, in his course league, or with the other members of the club that we got onto for free, they played for BIG money (like 500 bucks a man). He always said that our rounds were balance for him.

Less than ten days until baseball starts, and not one baseball entry? What say you about your Mets pitching situation? I'm picking the Brewers to win the Central. Prince Fielder slugs 35 dingers and hits over .300. Sheets bounces back to be a true number one to compliment Capuano at the number 2. The media falls over themselves to talk about Dave Bush as he racks up wins.
that should tell you something about hockey: that it's not about the competition, it's about kicking ass on the ice. (and before all you hockey lovers kick my ass all over the Internet, Let me state for the record that I have never played - or watched - any hockey, except one scrimmage where I was filming Oscar on the ice)
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