Photo credit: Nada Nesin (finally found it – thanks for a perfect image my friend!)
I’m not an easy sell on sport or spectacle – happy to join-in and play, mind you, just haven’t ever got back into the league-following habit, since I gave up hockey (playing and watching) as a kid, way back in the seventies.
I did always much enjoy playing soccer, though – a bunch of friends and their dads used to go down to the huge green across from convocation hall at the old central U of T campus every Saturday morning and play ‘shirts and skins’ (shirts as goalposts). A heck of a lot more fun than just running laps on the quarter-mile track, with very similar cardio effects for me (small kid + big field = never ever stop running, helpful or not). ;o)
To be clear, my aversion to spectacle is no hostility to fun whatsoever – I just hate to see dumb development that pushes poor people out of cheaper areas in the city core, being overly celebrated by folks who don’t even live in the city or care. Great party or not, spending has to be carefully done.
Have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the way the Pan Am games turned out a couple of years ago. Plenty of interesting events for everyone to see around the city, with or without cash in their pocket, a big emphasis on spending to improve transit in the region, instead of constructing gaudy showpieces, also a relatively small but nevertheless helpful bunch of fairly affordable housing constructed in areas that definitely needed it.
Best of all, it relieved the incredibly unwise pressure by some for Toronto to make a bid to host the Summer Olympics – which would be disastrous for our already overstretched housing situation and city budget both. Nice compromise all ’round.
Nada and I caught some sailing events down by the water – sure wish I’d had a longer lens for that. Better still, we managed to get inexpensive tickets to see the bronze medal soccer (or more internationally, football) match, in the almost completed new stadium in Hamilton (awesome view over the city, from the upper deck!).
As I mentioned, my sports-head is very rusty, so I was baffled by the referees play-interrupting calls and the many nuances of the high-level strategies – but I still like to study people and situations, even if I’m essentially lost. Not only was the crowd fascinating, the game too drew me right in.
What did we really get for our money? Top shelf sportsmanship, old-school – unexpected and priceless both! Inspiration too, naturally.