In Focus

Sports-heavy weekend includes hockey, basketball and the Super Bowl

Despite its lack of jaw-dropping plays, I enjoyed the Super Bowl, which, undoubtedly, was won by a superior Denver defense. Their smothering of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was an impressive feat, particularly considering how dominant and, seemingly, unstoppable a player he was during the entire season. His spirit and confidence were slowly eroded throughout the afternoon, culminating in a play which surprised most of those playing and watching the game. When Newton fumbled the football late in the game, he chose not to dive after it, instead almost stepping back from the play and allowing the Denver players to smother the ball. It appeared he had “given up” on himself and his team, perhaps choosing a healthy start to next season over a potentially serious injury at the hands of the blood-sniffing Denver defense.

Captain America Peyton Manning had a very average day, though he did enough to get his team regularly into scoring position and, just as importantly, made very few mistakes on his way to his 200th career victory. Hey, I like the guy (his public persona, that is), though he sure is an advertising whore, isn’t he? He couldn’t say “Budweiser” enough during his post-game interviews; the fact that he twice said he was going to “drink a lot of Budweiser” to celebrate the Broncos’ victory reeked of commerce. Anheuser-Busch, which produces one of the world’s most tasteless beers, claimed it had no idea Manning was going to mention Budweiser, but was very pleased with the plug, which amounted to the equivalent of $3.2 million in advertising. It turns out Manning owns two Anheuser-Busch distributors in Louisiana, which, it appears, made breaking the NFL law prohibiting players from endorsing alcohol simply too irresistible. It may also have been a signal that he is going to retire.

Continuing with the sports theme, last weekend was awash with tournaments in West Boundary, with men’s and ladies’ hockey descending on the Midway arena, and girls basketball invading the BCSS gymnasium. Both tournaments were well-attended and produced some top-notch entertainment for the spectators and participants alike.

The weekend certainly took me back to my teenage years in Southern Ontario, where I attended high school after emigrating to Canada from England. My sporting life had, up to then, been filled mostly by soccer, rugby and cricket, with some cross-country running thrown in for good measure. Ice hockey was simply not something we considered (despite there being several semi-professional teams scattered across the country), in large part due to the often mild winters and lack of outdoor skating rinks. Add to that the fact that soccer was played year round, made cleats considerably more popular (and cheaper) than skates. Moving to Fort Erie when I was fourteen opened my eyes to the thriving amateur hockey culture in this country, as I watched many of my new friends lace up the blades every Friday night for a scrimmage or a game, followed by my favourite part of the evening, a visit to the local Chinese restaurant for some Won Ton and a plate of sweet and sour. I never did learn to skate or play hockey, but I eventually memorized the King Wa menu!