Category Archives: Sport

Fighting In Hockey And Chris Simon

The business model was to hire an “enforcer” to protect the talented sharp shooter. A side show would arise where crowds would rise to their feet cheering for the home town brute in a fight sometimes planned and oftentimes instigated by the mildest of infractions. There was this theory promulgated by the Don Cherrys of the hockey world that since the referees weren’t calling all infractions…then the brutes would just have to settle it on their terms.

Chris Simon committed suicide at the age of 52 yesterday and he was an enforcer for the Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Flames, and Colorado Avalanche. He also played abroad right up until 2013 when he would have been 41. At 41, you know he wasn’t likely on the first line because of adept stick handling skills and agility. Nope…he would have been there to settle scores with his fists.

Wikipedia reports that Simon was afflicted by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. You know…that disorder arising from having your head punched in over and over. In our civil society, this is called “assault” but in a professional hockey arena it’s called entertainment.

When I attended my first NHL game in decades this past Saturday, I turned to my host when a scuffle broke out and said, “I was just thinking about how delightful it’s been not to have to witness a fight”. It would appear that things are getting better on the ice and the barbarianism is now perhaps less condoned than ever especially in lieu of the player law suits particularly over at the NFL. However; this doesn’t diminish the toll that a culture of violence has had on the suffering and longevity of Chris Simon.

Sport should be a place where healthy competition excels and skills and feats particular to human performance are broadcast for all of us to enjoy. There should be no joy in watching another human being be beaten.      

Casper Ruud Early Days

I was there in the early days of the Casper Ruud phenomenon. It was a week day afternoon in October of 2018 and I decided to play hooky at work (it’s okay – I own the joint) and head down to the Acadia Tennis Centre to watch an early round tennis match of the Challenger event here in Calgary. With a couple of matches to choose from I picked the Casper Ruud match. There were about 20 people in the stands. I thought to myself…this kid has got game with strong consistency. I projected the player to make an impact on the ATP tour. On Sunday he’ll vie for the French Open Title. BTW…yours truly has managed to keep tennis instructor credentials intact (online course recerts) here in Alberta during the challenging last three years.  Tennis is game for your life time. It’s never too late to pick up a racquet.

Flames Arena Deal Iced

Once again your tax dollars have been wasted. This time on a fantasy gone wrong. The Saddledome is a relatively new building built for the 1988 Olympics but for many it was already outdated because it wasn’t good enough for particular musical acts and there wasn’t enough luxury revenue generating suites for the liking Flames brass. For the wrong reasons, Calgarian’s tax dollars intended to meet the needs of every Calgarian were committed toward a special interest and a sport represented by players and management whose salaries far exceed those responsible for contributing funding. It was odorous from the beginning and the rightful ending has arrived but not without costs. The Flames Arena Deal is Iced but count on continued deliberations.  

You see….back when community rinks were established in the 1940’s and1950s all over Canada, these rinks were built with the pretext of bettering communities because all taxpayers would have access to them for figure skating, hockey, and recreational skating. Community programs could be advanced through the utilization of the facility. The health and wellness of all Canadians could be advanced in lieu of a community investment. This model is a good representation of a budget line item worthy of public funds given the direct benefit to tax payers.

You’ve all heard the economic argument of “spin offs” from building bigger and better. The trouble is that there is simply too much risk in postulating “economic benefit” from the standpoint of the magnitude of investment. Canadian cities are becoming more diverse with an aggressive immigration policy attracting new citizens who have not been acclimatized to the sport of hockey.

The NHL and its teams are financially successful evidenced by published salaries earned by players. In a capitalist model which Canada is barely retaining, corporations should be looking to the markets or investors for funding and not the public purse. 

Ironically and yet to be confirmed by rumours it may become evident that the nixing of the deal had much to do with a matter relevant to a reasonable Flames request associated with public funding of roadways / public works associated with the vicinity of the arena.

This has been a fiasco and could have been avoided. My sense is that prior Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had his instinct correct in the beginning about this project but then ceded his position from variables which I’ll allow you to speculate.          

Ski Gear Safety Tips

Now that we’re “gearing up” for the new ski season, I’ll give some gear tips to help keep you safe this winter. With many seasons under my belt while reading the occasional review on mountains and gear, I seldom see gear safety write ups… here goes my take.

Not all ski brakes are designed equally. Some fold up nicely while clamping in and others may not. If brakes do not elevate and wrap inward, then protruding brakes can catch on your snow pants or boot buckles. This could send you tumbling. Upon stepping in, check on your brake alignment with feet apart. If they don’t fully wrap, you can manually bring them in with a squeeze in order to save a trip to the pro shop. However; do have a technician tend to them in advance of your next outing.

Ski poles are still sold with straps. When you insert your hand into a strap, you don’t want your pole to catch on anything while whizzing by….like boundary netting. Never put your hands through pole straps in advance of disembarking from a chair.

Binding settings – this is one that you do think about. The settings need to be adjusted to your weight and proficiency level. If there’s a change in these two variables, your settings need to be changed accordingly.

Boot grips – there are none so buckle down when walking around the base area and mid-mountain lodge. This way your more nimble gait will lessen the chance of a slip. Smaller steps when walking in boots.  

Sun screen for your nose and lip balm. Ha ha.

Good Biomechanics of Running

I’ve been running recreationally my whole life with a particular hiatus during period of some knee discomfort. Today I comment on good biomechanics of running. My experience in running combined with my undergraduate degree in sports science compels me to evaluate good running form. My component coach during my fundamental course work in “kinesiology” in first year was Gabor Simonyi. This Hungarian master of hammer and shot put technique has a storied history in Canadian Athletics typified by the seven of eleven conference championships won by my Alma Mater the University of Alberta during his tenure and coaching leadership. He was a quirky slight fellow more adept at the intricacies of biomechanics than of the administrative side of sport as testified by former athletes.

Gabor had two primary focal points around the stride. I remember him incessantly referring to angle of attack and center of gravity. In my mind, I see him to this day demonstrating the foot hitting the ground in a backward propelling manner appealing to his students. One never gets set up properly without the necessary forward lean. We need to want to go just like the skier looking down the escarpment looking to attack versus cautiously navigating a path. Naturally, good mechanics also require stability in the pelvis and relaxation in the ankle. With a mind keen to move forward rather than up, we limit the impact as the foot lands. Arms work productively with balance and thrust.

Fatigue is a reality in running and the heroic propensity to overdo is ever present. People should take breaks when fatigued. Endurance arises from repetition and practice. Us mere mortals are always in a continuum of fitness due to schedules and lifestyle demands cognizant that exercise is our own responsibility to ourselves.