Friday, October 3, 2008

And so it began...

First and foremost, I'm a fan. OK, maybe I'm a bit of a freak. Alright fine…ahem. My name is the Canadian Sports Junkie and I'm a sports-aholic.

It started with hockey, the Jets in the late 80's.

Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Freddy Olausson...those were my guys.

My Dad had a quarter-share of two season tickets at the old Winnipeg Arena and he'd take me to a handful of games each year, but mostly I listened on the radio. Back then the Jets played in the Smythe Division and the late puck-drops inevitably led to me falling asleep before hearing the final score (assuming my Mom hadn't already caught me trying to deke around her bed checks and confiscated my radio). Most of the time I could scan the newspaper in the morning, but if the Jets were on the West coast the box score would read 'late' and I'd be left in the dark until my Dad came home for supper that night. That was a crushing feeling as a nine year-old, and thankfully, because of the internet, a feeling no child will ever know again.

Hockey was my first jones, but it quickly spread from there.

I remember Ben Johnson winning the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, then being stripped of it, and not quite being old enough to understand the proper context.

I remember buying the NHL Yearbook magazines and reading them cover-to-cover several times over, treating each edition like a newborn baby, preserving it in mint condition, year after year. I wasn't in a rush to do my homework, but I could tell you who the Sharks were most likely to select first in the expansion draft.

In the early '90s Henry "Gizmo" Williams initiated my interest in the CFL with his back-flip celebrations, but it was Matt Dunigan throwing for 700+ yards in a Blue Bomber uniform that won me over.

Then the Jays won back-to-back World Series and the Expos won in '94 (yes they did) and suddenly I had another itch to scratch. I know a lot of people complain that baseball is boring and the season is too long, but they're not taking into consideration how fun it is to hate the Yankees and Red Sox. Or how truly rewarding it would be to actually beat them again.

And then, after Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls caught my attention, the Raps and the Grizz joined the NBA and another love affair developed. Sure, those first few years of the NBA in Canada had the sizzle of a $2 steak, but hey, at least we had the Naismith Cup!

From there March Madness and soccer's World Cup were added to my roster, the WWE was dropped, and golf, tennis, and perhaps the grand-daddy of them all, the NFL, were brought onboard.

Why is it that every show on television is copycatted, but none of the other pro sports leagues will try to emulate the NFL? Short, meaningful regular seasons, concrete schedule, and do-or-die playoffs. I mean, could you imagine if the NHL played exclusively on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays? You don't think this would help attract US television audiences? A regimented schedule that you can plan for...what a concept!

Now? I'm a sick puppy.

European Tour golf early on the weekends? Check.

College football on a Saturday afternoon? Most definitely.

The Champions League on a Tuesday or Wednesday? Pour me a Guiness and count me in.

I might not wake up in time to watch Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso start the race, but I'll be there to catch the checkered flag.

No one will contact me on weekdays between 5:30 and 6PM EST because they know I won't answer them. That's PTI time, or as it's known in my

I live for stats, I can pore over box scores and league leaders for hours, but I also know how much they do and do not mean.

I love Christmas, but I might love the World Junior Hockey Championships even more. I appreciate Easter weekend, but Good Friday will (almost) always be Day 2 of the Masters to me.

In short, I love sports. I enjoy playing them and love watching and dissecting the games and contests. I love agreeing and disagreeing with the announcers, watching replays to see which players genuinely care, and busting my buddies chops when their teams lose, especially if it's at the hands of one of my own teams.

I know I shouldn't care nearly as much as I do, but I can't help myself. The competition, the intensity, the dim-witted GM's who constantly make bad decisions, it's all food for my insatiable appetite.

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