Monday, January 24, 2005

sports stories

I just finished watching Friday Night Lights with Anton and Ryan. It's not the sort of movie that I would have thought I'd like, judging from the trailers and all that, but Aren went to see it with some friends and liked it so he bought it. It got some pretty good reviews and I do like football, so I thought it would be worth checking out.

It's actually a pretty good movie. It's not as clich├ęd or conventional as some of these movies sometimes are. Billy Bob Thorton is good as the coach, and Derek Luke is good as "Boobie" Miles, the hot shot star who gets injured.

However, the movie got me thinking about stuff like sports and my high school days. For me, it was nothing like it was for those boys in Odessa, Texas in 1988. I wasn't on the football team. There wasn't the pressure on me to get into a good college on a sports scholarship. My dad wasn't an alcoholic trying to live his past glory through my success. However, for some reason I still managed to convince myself that high school was living hell. In many ways experiences like high school are what you make them. I would've loved to play football, but I convinced myself I was too small. I would have liked to play hockey at a higher level (I only played "rec" and did pretty well), but I convinced myself I wasn't good enough. The fact that I didn't play high school sports is something of a regret of mine. There is something about team sports though, that you can't get anywhere else (except, I assume, the military). The comaradarie. The adrenaline. The feeling of doing a job well done. And the joy of the game.

Again, I never played football. But I did play hockey. And the movie made me think about the one year that our team went to the city finals for "rec" (I know, nothing big, but it meant something to us at the time). My dad was the coach that year, so I got to see both sides of things. I was the first line centre (despite my small size I did have speed and tenacity) and so the pressure was on me to perform and put pucks in the net.

We had made it to the finals and I remember that final game, because it was like something out of a movie. We weren't doing so hot, down 2-1 and my dad was giving us that second intermission pep talk. The team had a lot of young guys, and many of us lacked confidence (as is wont in "rec" leagues). After the intermission we were all motivated and I went out and first shift I scored a goal! Then I was forechecking in the corner and got the puck, and I went to put it in front for my winger and instead it went off the back of the goalie's leg and in. Two goals and we were ahead! Then the Raiders got one and it was 3-3. We went to overtime. In the overtime period, my dad insisted on still keeping a straight rotation. He said that he was going to be fair and give everyone equal ice time. Unfortunately, the Raiders ended up scoring against one of our weaker lines and the game was over.

After the game I was really mad at my dad for not shortening the bench and only playing our better players. In the end I got over it, and I think playing hockey was a really good experience at team building. That loss also helped me to deal with losing and how to be gracious in victory and in loss.

Anyway, that's what movies like Friday Night Lights remind me of. I think that speaks to the success of the film. It's realistic, compelling, and for all the differences between Texas Division 1 Football and Saskatoon Minor Hockey, I felt like a part of me could relate. Now I'm thinking I may end up watching the Superbowl. Funny.


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