Occasional athletic detox a welcome thing

Sometimes, it’s just nice to disconnect for a couple of days. No TV, no cell phone, no Internet. No wi-fi or 3G around.
I was lucky enough to experience that kind of lifestyle this past weekend when I hit up a music festival in rural Manitoba.
Music festival? Shunning technology? In a sports column? Lucifer may very well be breaking in his new CCM blades as we speak, but hear me out (or read me out, rather).
Sometimes it’s sort of neat to step back and be briefly uninformed.
For two whole days, I had no idea how the MLB pennant races were going, whether Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract situation was resolved, or if Albert Haynesworth was going to be able to take the field in a Washington Redskins’ uniform or not.
That may not sound earth-shattering, but I slept in one Sunday morning in the winter, found out on Twitter that Calgary Flames’ defenceman Dion Phaneuf had been dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs shortly after waking up, and felt woefully out of the loop.
I’m constantly/compulsively checking Twitter and my Google Reader RSS feeds to see if any news is coming down the pipe (and searching for column ideas, of course).
In fact, it’s nearly to the point where it’s almost a nervous tic. Transcribing interview, writing, transcribing, writing, holy cow, Manny Ramirez got picked up by the White Sox!, transcribing, writing, pounding out column, laying out page, wow, Tim Kennedy signed with the Rangers!
Heck, even a lot of my beloved comedy comes from sports parody sites like Down Goes Brown and Sports Pickle.
This is basically an example of what I was battling.
It was appropriate, then, that my cell phone died during the drive out so that I wasn’t tempted to try to climb a tree and get some reception to find out some NFL exhibition game results. That likely would have ended up in an extended hospital stay.
?All information avenues snuffed out, the detox began.
Thankfully, all went well. I didn’t get the shakes, the compulsion to overeat, or even any withdrawal symptoms.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sports. But sometimes it’s just refreshing to be in a place where the only competitions are maybe a frisbee golf game in a far-off field. Perhaps some people are kicking around a soccer ball nearby, too, but nothing more.
No screaming at referees or blaring goal horns or AC/DC, just some smooth acoustic guitar and vocals and saxophones.
I got so into what I was doing that it didn’t matter that I was so out of touch with the sporting world. Wayne Gretzky, Bo Jackson, and Michael Jordan could have very well announced that they were going to form a ProStars squad to compete in all four major North American sports in 2011 and I wouldn’t haven’t known.
And I wouldn’t have cared that I didn’t know.
And so hopefully I can parlay the weekend into not needing to know everything right this cotton-pickin’ minute. I have been known, after all, to sneak peeks onto ESPN’s mobile website at inopportune times like some teenagers illicitly sneak cigarettes.
It just all comes back to what’s important in life.
Sports certainly can create some fine bonding moments between friends and family members. But if you’re checking the NHL television schedules to see if any Carolina-Atlanta games will be broadcast this season, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that it has nothing to do with bonding over the sturdy defensive play of Boris Valabik and probably has more to do with a borderline obsessive fandom of a team or even a sport.
I’m not a fan of either team, but I can name drop Boris Valabik, so I’ve proved my point.
Granted, sometimes it’s fun to name drop obscure 1990s NHL’ers like Jarmo Myllys, which I can startlingly spell correctly before checking Google, as an inside joke of some sort. But I guess there are funnier things in life than knowing who Rene Corbet is, apparently.
As I’ve argued in this space before, athletics can—and should—serve to make a political statement (think Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics). But much of the time, they’re simply a pleasant distraction from everyday life.
My face may say something different after taking in a brutal loss, but one game isn’t a be-all nor an end-all.
Don’t just watch or follow—do! Try to make a point of hitting the ice rink or basketball court every once in a while, but don’t stop at sports. Be well-rounded and embrace new music or dance or theatre, or better yet, make some.
There’s too much out there to make life just about one or two things. So if you’re a Blue Jays’ fan who’s written off another season, now’s probably a perfect time to try to learn some new things since NFL’s still in the pre-season and the CFL isn’t a huge commitment.
I may not have totally lived the life of being surrounded by scores and statistics at all times, but it’s come close.
Sports are an awesome distraction from everyday life, but they aren’t everything. Sometimes, a distraction from the distraction can be just as welcome.
Whoa, Hiroki Kuroda nearly no-hit the Phillies?
• • •
After writing a couple of columns as a reporter-involvement pieces (on fishing and skeet/target shooting), it’s high time I try to find another opportunity to get involved.
I’m planning on trying to spare in the men’s curling league at the local club this winter, despite not having thrown a rock since 2005, so if anyone needs an extra, mediocre sweeper, I may well be available.
With a whole load of activities starting up in the coming weeks, though, there should be several opportunities for new sports coming up that I can put some sort of entertaining and informative spin on.
Let me know at 274-5373 ext. 236 if your sport might be right for me.

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