Thursday, June 24, 2010

The politics of hockey

Josh races up the bleachers at Eric’s hockey game to the large open area at the top with nothing but concrete floors and white walls. It’s clearly just an unfinished space, but to a five-year-old boy, it looks like the best place on earth to chase a rubber orange ball around with a plastic hockey stick.

Josh moves from side to side and whacks the ball into the wall, trying to anticipate which direction it will come back. He races from one end to the other as friends and family of the local men’s league cheer on their loved ones and ooo and ah at near misses and acrobatic saves. I turn to watch the game for a moment, and when I look back, I see a small boy who can’t be more than eighteen months old running toward Josh’s ball, gesturing and grunting like the urgent toddler Josh was not so long ago. He is not choosing to go get the ball. He must get it. Nothing else in his world exists except that rolling orange object that seems to suddenly change direction every time he gets close enough to grab it.

“Show him your ball,” I suggest as the toddler’s desperate mother tries to distract him.

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