Thursday, April 04, 2013

On Definitions

I was going to write a wistful post about the death of Rock Band and LucasArts (and the collapse of Square Enix), but it's my birthday, so screw that.

[thanks to those of you who posted on my Facebook wall today. I never check my page--it's an ecosystem unspoiled by my presence--but they send me e-mail notifications.]

Instead, given the other subjects this week, I'd like to talk about Eli 11.8's goalie coach.

He's a no-nonsense fellow who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Pro Hybrid style of goaltending. He taught himself the craft as an engineer would, even though he's never played the position himself. Given his lack of experience, he is unexpectedly brilliant as an instructor.

While he can be stern, he rewards both effort and inspiration with the highest respect. Eli 11.8 is full of both, and they get along famously. Eli would skate through a wall for his coach, and from all appearances, the feelings are mutual.

Eli wrote a note for his coach today, which he does at the end of every season. Before he started, I wanted him to understand something he might not have thought about before. "Do you know the most special thing that coach has given you?" I asked on the way to the rink.


"Dreams," I said.

"Dreams? What?"

"You dream about playing pro hockey," I said, "but you wouldn't have that dream if coach hadn't been with you from the beginning. He taught you to do everything the right way. He pushes you forward and always challenges you. Who could give you something bigger than a dream?"

He was quiet for a moment, then he started writing. "I never thought about that way," he said.

"Neither did I," I said. "Until now."

I thought about Eli's coach today after reading all week about his polar opposite: dirtbag Mike Rice. Here's another gem:
In the summer of 2010, Murdock joined Rice at a summer camp attended by children ages 10 through 12. A few kids came into the gym late. "So now [Rice] feels he has a need to embarrass these kids in front of other campers," Murdock says. "And then he noticed that they have on flip-flops. So he looks down, and he said, 'Flip-flops are for f----ts. Flip-flops are for f----ts.' I mean, in front of 10-year-old kids."

It's entirely remarkable--in this country, at least--that the unlimited anger and bullying of coaches is somehow considered necessary and essential to the personal development of boys. People say that it turns boys into men.

If that's true, then perhaps we should change the definition of what it means to be a man.

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