Brad Roberts


I've never been a sports fan.
I figured out that I hated sports in grade five:
The coach with his bullshitty earnest attitude;
The totally unimaginative fans;
And the fact that the other kids were actually
Buying in to this school spirit crap!

Then again, I was a total loser at sports.
Last guy to be picked for every team.
which is probably the real reason I hated sports.
Once, however, I did get a break.
I got a frozen hockey puck in the eye.
I had a massively black eye the next day,
and I wore it like a badge of honor.
I thought I looked extremely tough and streetwise.
Girls would ask me, with feigned shock -
"What happened to YOU?'
"Just got a puck in the eye" I would explain on-chalantly,
As if this sort of thing happened
All the time to guys like me.
It was the best week out of the whole fifth grade.

Much later on as an adult,
I found myself at a hockey game.
Seats right on the red line. Ice level.
I didn't really want to go, but I had nothing else to do.

When that first puck was dropped,
All hell broke loose.
We were close enough to hear the players
Cursing each other, and the enormous clash
Against the boards when a man
was checked by another.

Then one of the teams decided to send out their goon.
The goon's job is merely to intimidate,
But this guy really liked to fight.
You could tell just looking at him.
And so it wasn't a big surprise when he
Took a swing at a guy.
We could hear the man's jaw breaking
As he went down.
And then there was blood. And then furor.
The benches cleared and a brawl ensued.

As I watched these men, all that old anger
That I pretended not to harbor against the jocks
At school in fifth grade came roaring back.
I was up on my feet,
Screaming and yelling,
My heart racing, bloodlust pumping
Through my veins.
I wanted death. Nothing less.

When the fight finally broke up and I
'came to', as it were,
I knew this was a feeling I'd never had before.
A feeling more powerful than
Anything I knew.
And then it all came together for me:
This why why people loved hockey!
And I joined in for the rest of the game.
I was one of them now;
I had a new family.

And we all drank too much beer
And became sloppy and belligerent
and woke up the next morning
with splitting hang-overs.
And the next week we did it
all over again
for many years to come.

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