Vail Daily column: Games misunderstood
Anybody know Rick Reilly? He’s a Colorado guy (more Denver than Grand Junction). Some people like him; others don’t because he believed to the very end that his biker friend, Lance Armstrong, wasn’t lying when he rode around the world collecting prizes.
This is not my perception of that game, but another. (Some uncanny comparisons, though.)
My buddy Rick is a writer and I have not read a better book on sport since the Bible’s version of the Roman Coliseum cage fighting episodes. The book is accurate about friends, marriage, sex, honesty, money, lies and the lack thereof.
I interpret it personally and it talks specifically of my life loving, learning and always yearning to play. Pablo (our mutual friend from the Seychelles Islands) said it best about the subject (and please imagine the beautiful Seychelles accent): “It’s a habitual drug this sport is. Holding that shaft in your hand and never knowing if it will do what you want it to do? That is the mystery my friend. That is why we love the game, is it not?”
The game is golf (not biking, Ricky’s other favorite sport) and golf is personal. I’m re-reading Reilly’s book about golf and it has reintroduced me to the hate/love relationship I have with the game. It also sheds the bright lights on my own strengths and mostly weaknesses. (Let the comparisons begin.)
People will get divorced because of the game and that’s a fact. I am one of those people. It starts beautifully when she says, “No problem, honey, you go ahead and play. I’ll have dinner ready when you get home. What time do you think?”
Young children in the same relationship certainly will throw a sand wedge into the mix. “Sure, you play on Sunday. Go ahead, miss another soccer game. I don’t care, but I think the kids do. How can you be so selfish, you prick?”
Eventually the problems have a strain due to larger examples of “what were you thinking?”
I remember not remembering a birthday party after a friendly round which included cocktails. I was asleep in the car which was parked harmlessly in the driveway when, after the candle lighting ceremony, my wifey gave me a little nudge and said, “Why don’t you go inside and say happy birthday to your daughter.” In retrospect, I’ve never seen so much hate in a person’s eyes.
Once you have compromised the trust of a loving wife because of the game you love, your wife will hate your love for the game and never trust again. Game over. Ultimately understanding, compassion, vows, size 6 and a 32 waist become distant memories and divorce is the only viable option.
The truth of it is, though, that the game is so beautiful it’s worth all the risks.
My father let me drive the cart early in my life and I remember that more than his lousy swing.
I hit a good one on the Rosemount Par 3 Course and my dad’s playing partner said, “That kid hits a good ball.” (I was 11 and never felt so proud.)
I instilled in my own 12-year-old to be patient after bad shots. I was playing with him last week and he reminded me 20 years later that I had told him just that.
I have friends I hardly ever see until we meet once a year on the sacred grounds of the environmentally sensitive areas of Fox Hollow Golf Course. We argue about bets we’ll never pay. We tell dirty jokes and profess our manhood on the tee box. We laugh until we pee our pants and the guys that hold marriage dear still get home later than promised.
An anonymous quote from a bar napkin I’ve saved for years is appropriate here: “Behold the golfer, he riseth up early in the morning and disturbeth the whole household. Mighty are his preparations. He goeth forth full of hope and when the day is spent, he returneth smelling of strong drink, and the truth is not in him.”
Can anyone name a sport where a regular junkie can duplicate a pro 5 to 40 percent of the time? Some more, some less, but the hacks can do what a professional can do any day of the week on a golf course. (Plug in the loving, learning, yearning thing.)
Put me on a football or baseball field and I’m fairly confident I would be taken off on a stretcher after being hit by the steroid induced linebacker or not getting out of the way of a major league fastball. Ultimately, I would be pronounced dead after several futile attempts to revive me. They would call my extended family and say, “He was just too fat and slow to participate.” (You can get away with fat, slow and ugly on the golf course.)
I embrace the next generation taking up the sport. It’s as beautiful as the young Devo bobble heads you see winding through the bumps under Chair 2 on any given Friday. I’ve also grown to be kindly and appreciate the women I see hitting the orb on Sunday with their husbands/friends. (In theory, it could keep some marriages from dissolving.)
Reilly and I both love golf, but we come to a crossroad with bikes. (He thinks they have the right of way and I think my transportation weighs thousands of pounds more than theirs.)
So I’ve satisfied myself with a conclusion for both parties: I won’t call you a road hog if you don’t call me selfish. I won’t laugh at your uniform if you don’t laugh at my shorts.
You ride and I’ll just walk.
Greg Ziccardi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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