Thursday, July 10, 2008

So it has been, so it always will be.

You know that movie, Days of Thunder? With Tom Cruise? How when the two drivers are injured they race in the hospital corridor, and then later on in the rental cars, destroying them completely in their attempt to best each other? And in the end, how the driver and the crew boss (pit boss) race for the sheer enjoyment of racing, of competing.

This movie and others like it, many with other themes but the same underlying message go on to show how that type of rivalry, the competition, the respect, grudgingly given though it might be, that comes for and from a worthy opponent and how it can turn a dislike or disdain into a lasting friendship.

That need to best your peers seems to be at its height around me at the moment. All the sports I love to spectate are currently active to one degree or another and I'm revelling in it.

Can you guess what sports I'm avid about? I'll give you a hint, the first is considered 'big business' and much money is spent on advertising at one particular game in the US every year. It's a team game and has as many sets of rules as there are continents. There's nothing universal about it.

Not hockey (although it has its place) and certainly not baseball, because while it's an enjoyable afternoon to sit in the stands and watch a game, or lounge on the grass and cheer for family and friends it's just not...exhilarating to watch like the other sports I love.

FOOTBALL. CFL football to be exact. NFL may have the glitz and the dollars and the hype but CFL has the action. We're gearing up for the season. The pigskin is tossed, thrown for yardage; sometimes spiked hard into the limed grass in the endzone and I watch, happy, excited and somewhat smug in my knowledge of the plays and game strategy. Did you know that among spectator sports football is considered one of the hardest to understand? I simply do not get that. Football is like war. Organized, civiled war. Each team takes their turn at capturing the territory, marching the ball in concerted spurts of effort. If they succeed they get another go. If they don't they switch to the defensive and the other team marches onward, regaining the territory lost.

Sweet battle. The gridiron. Power and strength. Hulking shoulders, lithe hips, strong thighs and sadly no more huddles. Ah the huddles... can we hear an 'oh yeah' to the huddles?

Ahem... yes.. Football. One of my favourite spectator sports.

Yet, still not my favouritest. It's my blog, I'll invent words on it iffen I want to.

Next on the list show jumping. Yes, elitism at its finest. I ride. I ride Western. The closest I've ever come to jumping was pointing a hunter trained horse at a jump once by mistake and barely staying in the saddle as she sailed over it. I fancy that I understand the connection between horse and rider. It's there, between any rider and any horse but between some of the 'stars' of the equestrian ring that connection is very nearly visible to the naked eye. An adjunct to showjumping would have to be dressage. Yes, I know that some believe that watching dressage is akin to watch paint dry but I'll be plunked down in front of my tv set through the Olympics sucking up the chance to watch televised dressage and showjumping. And three day eventing for good measure. Yet, still not my most favourite of all sport.

That I reserve for *drumroll and trumpet fanfare please...*

My most favourite of sports of all.

Chuckwagon racing.

WPCA, CPCA. Kelly Sutherland, The Glass family, Ron, Tom and Jason. The checkerboard wagon. The Irish Shamrocks of Doyle Mullaney. The Bashaw Flash. The Cosgroves and their tragedy, everyone's tragedy. The sons of sons of drivers as the tradition lives on. The wry remarks of some, "I was born in a wagon, what else do I do but become an outrider?"The cries of the crowd. The way grandstands rock and tremble as hundreds of fans stomp their feet to bring the wagons home. The gravelly tones of Joe Carbury and Les McIntyre.

...more to come...