Tuesday, January 8, 2013
The writer Marcel Proust once said (when he wasn't too busy eating cookies), "Three-quarters of the sicknesses of intelligent people come from their intelligence. They need at least a doctor who can understand this sickness."
I consider myself an intelligent, reasonable person, but when it comes to sports, I abandon all reason and morph into a sheep, guided only by my instinct to follow the rest of the herd. In my case, the herd I follow is made up of other mostly intelligent people who can't help themselves when confronted with football, basketball, soccer, baseball and hockey. We might as well be drooling vegetables in the presence of our chosen poison.
After enduring yet another National Hockey League work stoppage, the realization has never been more apparent that being a sports fan is a sickness. Anyone who must stop the world to turn on a baseball, football, basketball, or hockey game has got some major issues. Further, anyone who spends thousands of dollars every year in the form of season tickets has a few screws loose. And, any individual with the financial resources to actually purchase a professional sports team should take that money and donate it to a worthwhile charity. Supporting unionized, professional athletes in today's world is like giving candy to a blind, diabetic amputee.
Early Sunday morning, the NHL announced that its labor issues have been resolved, and it will soon embark on an abbreviated season. My head told me to ignore the news and get on with my day. My heart, however, was rejoicing with the knowledge that there would soon be hockey to gnash my teeth and bite my nails over. That is my sickness. It has been with me since childhood, and it won't be going away any time soon, despite my level of intelligence.
Speaking of intelligence, one of the most intelligent athletes to ever play professional hockey, former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden, put down some very astute words about the NHL lockout for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. I've always admired Mr. Dryden for his intelligence - he became a lawyer after retiring from hockey in 1979 - but he never achieved great success as a front-office hockey guy, or as a politician (he was my Member of Parliament for a short time when I lived in Toronto). Maybe his calling was to be one of the greatest hockey players of all time; maybe he is an above-average lawyer; maybe, just maybe, he is as stupid as the rest of us, waiting for the puck to drop on the first game of the 2013-2013 season.