I’ve been a member of some talented sports teams in the past.
Losing teams? Several of those as well.
The line between winning and losing can be as fine as a grain of salt. But it can also be as wide as the sea.
Dedicating this column to the ball hockey team I played on in the Men’s Summer Ball Hockey League at the Roll-A-Dome may raise eyebrows.
After all, what justifies filling a page with rambling notes about a squad that finished the regular season without earning a victory (I heard that we collected two wins by default), a team that wasn’t even close to garnering a win on most occasions?
The purpose is sportsmanship, exercise and camaraderie. Isn’t that why Average Joe athletes like myself play team sports in the first place?
We aren’t professionals. In fact, we’re far from it. But what individuals can’t achieve on the scoreboard, they can make up for with classiness on the floor.
Having failed to collect a victory all season, it’d be easy for members of the Northern Linen Steamers to get frustrated.
We’re only human, and as such, at times we expressed our frustration outwardly. Try finding an athlete who’s never dropped an f-bomb, screamed in anger or slammed his equipment on the ground. You’d be hard pressed.
Considering the circumstances, and just how heavily overmatched we were on most occasions, I thought we did a reasonable job of being good sports. There were a couple of intense moments, near fist fights early in the season. Fortunately, those altercations subsided towards the end of the season.
We weren’t really in it to win the league in the first place. Given the lack of competitive hockey background of some of the players on the squad, we were more interested in having fun and being competitive.
We wanted to win. But once it became clear that even that may not happen, our goal was to be more competitive. I think we achieved that.
I missed a couple of our team’s games this season. When my teammate Tyson Tralnberg told me our squad lost by a goal when I wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago, I instantly called his bluff. He wouldn’t budge.
I received the e-mail of league scores from Hartley Miller, and the score read as clear as day: Mr. Jake’s 10 Northern Linen Steamers 9
The score impressed me. Not only did we lose by a single goal, nearly pulling off the upset of the season, but we scored nine goals. Apparently, we added a few key players who made significant contributions in the one-goal defeat.
On Sunday, we met the same Mr. Jake’s squad in the first round of the playoffs. The lopsided losses returned, as we lost both games handily. I had a personal highlight with a hat trick, scoring each of our team’s three goals in the first game. Still, I would’ve preferred closer scores.
In the end, our squad ended up far below the pack. Miller sent out another e-mail last week with final regular season stats. Our totals looked like this: zero wins, 20 losses, 31 goals for and 210 goals against.
To put it in perspective, the other three squads in the league Mr. Jake’s, Lordco Auto Parts and the Warriors sported above .500 records in the regular season with at least 50 more goals for than against.
Our goals against total in no way reflects the efforts put forth between the pipes, particularly by Thomas Dudley, who started the majority of our games. He held our team in games early, and the substantial amount of goals against can be attributed mainly to our players’ lack of emphasis on the defensive end.
In an e-mail, Miller noted that he’d never seen a team lose so bad so often in 25 years of running ball hockey. He said we should get a “Best of the Worst” award.
The roughly half dozen players who stuck it out from start to finish this season should be commended. If not for their dedication, we wouldn’t have even finished the season. Our futility from start to finish this season may give our team the distinction of the worst all-time ball hockey team in Prince George, but at least we showed up.
Learning what it takes to win in that league was a harsh lesson for players on our team. You may see some of the players return, but don’t expect a return of the Northern Linen Steamers.
Watching the best athletes and teams win may never get old for some people.
But every now and then, an unsung hero rises to the occassion to the joy of others.
On Sunday at the PGA Championship, the final of four major tournaments on the PGA tour for 2009, that underdog was Y.E. Yang of South Korea.
Just how big of a surprise can we consider his victory? Well for those who don’t follow golf, I’ll paint a clearer picture. To win the title, Yang had to come from behind in the final round. The man he passed to win the title was none other than the top golfer in the world, Tiger Woods.
Woods was 14-0 when atop the leaderboard entering the final round of a major. For Yang, ranked 110th in the world, it was his first major and only his second PGA Tour win.