Sports and Circuses


As soon as I walked into our pub I could tell there was something else besides drinking beer going on. The place was packed and all the screens were tuned to a basket ball game. Game 6 just happen to be on during our Thirsty Thursday after noon tea at our regular watering hole.

‘The Toronto Raptors basketball team seem to have captured everybody’s attention this past couple of weeks,’ Camp said after we squeezed into the corner beside a couple of women who were decked out in Raptor’s gear with ball caps and sleeve less team shirts. Neither Camp nor I know anything about basketball. When I asked one of two fans if they could explain the basics to us two philistines she rolled her eyes in disbelieve but then obliged, probably feeling sorry for us.

‘Each team is made up of 12 players but only 5 are on the court any one time,’ Colleen – her name – said.  ‘The court measures 91 x 50 feet and the baskets are hung 10 feet high.  There are 4 x 12 min quarters and a 15 min break at halftime. Put the ball in the basket to score the points. That’s it.’

‘I guess the taller the player, the easier to score so if you had an 8 foot tall player he could hold the ball above his head, walk across the court and drop it into the basket,’ I said and now both woman stared at me like I was a Martian. ‘Ok, there are no 8ft tall players,’ I conceded

‘There are several players over 7ft tall,’ Colleen said, ‘but height isn’t everything. Speed, accuracy, fitness, game awareness all play a part. What’s really exciting is that a Canadian team has a chance to win the championship. Not only do we have Drake, now we have the Raptors.’

‘On Tuesday it was the Stanley Cup final and the underdog – if there is such a think amongst equals – the St.Louis Blues, won the coveted cup for the first time in their franchise’s 52 year history.,’ Camp said, proving once again that he pays attention even if he’s not interested..

‘Yes, I caught the last period,’ I said, ‘Great stuff. ‘Remember when Boston beat the Canucks in game 7 in Vancouver all those many moons ago?’

‘Which turned into the night of shame when hooligans and rowdies turned downtown Vancouver into a riotous war zone, for the whole world to see, smashing storefronts and looting, burning and overturning cars.’

‘All over a silly game played by millionaires,’ I said, keeping a eye on the back and forth on the large screen. Colleen and her friend were alternately cheering and moaning or jumping up clapping or pulling their hair our.  Back and forth, point  by point, and then there were 0.9 seconds on the clock and still it wasn’t over. Then a cry went up all over the bar, the town, the city and the whole country. ‘We won!!!’

‘Yeah, and then it’s the Blue Jays, the cricket games, the rugby sevens, Fe Nadal winning  in the French open for the tenth time, the US open golf tournament with Tiger Woods and last but not least the women’s soccer world cup in France, now on for the next month, just in time for the Tour de France,’ Camp said, making it sound more like a lament than an observation. ‘Games and circuses for the masses, from the White House to the soccer pitch.’

‘Did you see the US demolish the Thai’s 13 : 0 and celebrating every goal like it was the world cup winner?’ I asked Camp.

‘No, but I heard about it. Kind of undignified to celebrate scoring against an opponent that is obviously not on the same level or the same league, especially after having put the game away many goals ago.’

‘What did you think about the US women’s celebrating beating the crap out of an inferior Thailand team?’ I had asked Colleen a long time ago at halftime, before the Raptors made Canadian and MBA history.

‘Typical American hamburger behaviour, all meat and no substance,’ she said with disdain. ‘No class, all brawn.’

Amidst all the hooting an cheering and ecstatic confusion Vicky finally slipped us a couple of cold ones..

‘Hey, what about us!’ Colleen hollered. ‘I’ve ordered a long time ago.’

‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ Vicky said,’ I must have given your two beers to the two old boys by mistake.’

‘Sorry,’ I said, offering her my half empty pint, while Camp held on to his with both hands.

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