I have a dreadful inadequacy that is
particularly embarrassing for males. And before you think I'm
about to replace Bob Dole as poster boy for Viagra, let me caution
you that it's much more serious than that.
I'm sad to admit that I know nothing
If only there were serious, white-coated
scientists looking for a chemical cure for athletic ignorance.
When my manly friends gather around the water cooler and discuss
point spreads, shots on goal, and career RBIs, I can only smile
and nod, and hope no one notices this gap in my otherwise impeccable
I'm in real trouble if they me ask if
I think Gonzales (or Kowalchuk or Weinstein) has what it takes
to "go all the way this year", whatever that means.
The best I can do is venture an opinion that whoever it is we're
discussing looks good, if his knee holds out. Even if you don't
know anything about a particular sport or athlete, it's usually
pretty safe talking about someone's knee (hoping of course that
whatever the sport is involves the knee if it turns out
to be NASCAR racing, you've pretty much blown your cover).
It used to be easier to fake athletic
knowledge when each sport had its own season. If it was the middle
of winter I could safely assume we were talking about hockey.
If it was spring there was a good chance the subject was baseball.
But now with exhibition and pre-season play, every sport is played
all the time, making it much more difficult to guess what everyone
is talking about.
My problem is I just don't get sports,
even though in my younger days I once starred in one of those
old Participaction commercials. And no, I wasn't featured
as the 'before' picture, thanks for asking.
I never saw the appeal of getting out
on a cold wet field early in the morning to let larger boys stand
on my head. I saw even less point in watching other people do
As an adult, big player salaries are
as much a mystery to me as the outrageous ticket prices. For
the money I spend more time at a hockey game looking at the crowd
or trying to locate the hotdog guy than I do watching the actual
You'd think I'd have a better appreciation
for sports. My grandfather played football for the Hamilton Tiger
Cats, and my father won a National Newspaper Award for sportswriting.
Professional athletes hung around the house. Before that they
hung around my grandparents' house looking for a free meal in
the days when 'professional' athletes were paid so little they
relied on handouts from sportswriters and fans to survive.
But that was before grown men were paid
tens of millions of dollars for chasing various-sized balls around
between trips in their private jets.
It's hard to believe that there isn't
at least one athletic chromosome floating around in the shallow
end of the Lautens gene pool, but if there is it must have gone
to my brother. Or maybe it'll skip a generation and any children
I have will be spared the humiliation of being jock-talk impaired.
There is hope after all. My wife may
not follow league play, but she sure is one enthusiastic fan.
Normally soft-spoken and mild mannered, God help any referee
or linesman who gets within earshot of her after a bad call.
I've seen steelworkers shoot her an appreciative glance after
a particularly colourful exchange.
For their own sakes, let's hope any kids
take after her.