Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to wherever you are. Today I’d like to write about sport drinking. But perhaps the greater discussion is drinking in public and I’ll probably get there, so let’s get to it:
Yes, drinking goes hand in hand with sporting but for now let’s set aside the passive version of this statement. I’m not talking about watching the big game while pounding back a beer. I’m talkin’ about participaction, darlin,’ and I’m talking about you. You lacing up the skates, you going for a hike, you running down the track or down the line or digging deep for the ball, the block, the bravura, the whateva.
Whatever your particular thing is, don’tcha just love having a beer afterwards? Why? Is it the celebration of our body beating back the twin demons of Sloth & Lethargy? Is it simply that we’re thirsty? Is it an extension of the brotherly/sisterly bond that binds people together when competing for common cause? Followed by our desire to sanctify said bond with this, the most holiest of liquids?
Yes, it is all of those things.
And what of individual sports, such as skateboarding? Does the communal spirit or common cause found in team sports not apply? I would posit that it absolutely does. You’re not working together towards a win, per se, but there’s definitely a sense of community. Especially when said sport is played and displayed upon a tableau such as, oh I dunno, a skatepark. Whether you’re celebrating someone’s successful execution of a trick or maybe easing their pain a with a brew after a bail, the stoke still exists and each deserve their own gulp of grog. The same can be said for any and all individual pursuits. You just finished a sick AF mountain bike ride? Let’s go to the patio, hoist a few, and talk about it!
And here I must deviate a tick from the title of this post by saying that cracking a beer and throwing up a cheer with your fellow humans is a universal joy and not limited to sports and sporting events. Did you just narrowly win a tense, testicle-ascending game of Uno? Or perhaps, just had your ASS handed to you in a spelling bee? It’s “I” before “E” except after “C” and sometimes “E-N-G-L-I-S-H” sucks but I digress because both of those cases go better with cases. Of beer.
Back to the sporting.
Squamish, British Columbia has had itself a fairly wet run as of late. That’s okay. I know where I live and it rains here a lot. The precipitation just seemed a bit… prolonged is all.
But back to the sporting.
Over the last 30 years I’ve made multiple deals with the Devil: In exchange for playing hard at high levels, I forfeit the vitality of my body, bit by bit. The Vig on those contracts is enormous and now way past due and, wouldn’t you know it? Satan’s debt collector is a dastardly devil who plays at orthopedic surgery. And so it was in the dead of night that I was whisked away to an operating theater in Hell. Legions of demons cackled and wailed as the bone-doctor banshee removed my perfectly pliable feet and ankles at the pleasure of the Crimson King. Then this ghoul-most-cruel raided the tomb of a desert dweller, who’d long ago worn his feet down to nubs running barefoot across the caliche. It was the remains of that poor soul’s soles the arch-fiend hastily stitched into and onto my limbs, using only the finest scar-tissue thread.
BUT BACK TO THE SPORTING!!!
I love skateboarding. Due to the rain and aforementioned foot issues I’ve been unable to skate for 6 months now. Then, on BC’s Family Day long weekend three miracles came to pass. First the Sun came out to dry up all the rain. Secondly (and this had been slowly happening over the last three weeks) my normally aching ankles seemed to flex and glide along their allotted course without complaint. Thirdly, and this was the clincher, MBW had ferried herself and our offspring across the Salish Sea to see her folks. It’s dry, I’m healthy(ish) and unencumbered by commitment? Let’s skate!
And so I did this thing that I love and it was glorious. Skaters, young and old, congregated at the concrete temple and prayed and played all afternoon. And when the fickle fountain of youth ran dry and my ankle started to ache a bit, I put down my board and pulled out a beer.
The sound that can made as I popped the top flooded my body with dopamine and the pleasure receptors dampened the pain. The first pull was longish and I languished as the all-purpose engine oil of life lubricated my rusty components from the inside-out. I then made my way to the upper deck of the park, where friends old and new were celebrating similarly. We cheers’d and casually sipped our beers whilst watching the constant ebb and flow of the chaotic sprawl below. It was a perfect day.
So listen: I won’t get preachy if you don’t get judgy. My mantra is to live and let live and do what you want as long as you’re not hurting anybody. I know that it’s actually illegal to drink in public places. I will not say this is puritanical lunacy and the product of ultra-conservative oldsters bent on breaking the spirit of us regular folk. What I would say, should someone hit me with that little booger of truth is, “You’ve got a point there.”
My solution is simple, but sometimes hard to put into practice:
Be Cool. Everybody just be cool.
The sad truth about humanity is that Dicks, Douchebags and Lowest Common Denominators ruin everything. I have two kids and I take them places from time to time. If we arrived to find some drunken asshole spitting and spewing and generally, you know, being an asshole, I would take extreme umbrage at this and either remove my family (likely) or remove the idiot (if I had to) from the equation. Without delving into specifics, here’s how you handle Lowest Common Denominators (let’s call’em LCD’s: it’s a coolish nickname for a foolish nimrod). You let them know their antics and behavior are not welcome. You self-police. I am NOT talking about vigilantism. I’m talking about seeing bad behavior, verbalizing that it won’t be tolerated and then, you know, not tolerating it.
The beauty of the skateboard community and really any community built upon a foundation of fun is the number of good people far and away outweigh the bad. One rotten McIntosh quickly gets tossed by the larger stacks of Gala & Granny-Smith. The same truth holds for other sports. You have that one obnoxious parent yelling at the ref from the sidelines? Well there’s an ocean of decent parents to drown out the clown-fish flappin’ its fins! They can, and do, work to reinforce the tenets of respect and fair-play and fun at the core of any sport one cares to pursue.
But back to the drinking in public thing. I guess my question is, why not? Let us not fall victim and be punished for the sins of the LCDs. Last summer there was a “family friendly” protest at English Bay, orchestrated by Vancouver’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). After multiple fruitless discussions with the city about drinking in public, CAMRA organized a “Beer on the Beach: Picnic Protest” whereby people were invited to hang-out and, if they so desired, crack open a can of beer. The event was publicized, well attended, beer was consumed, and you know what? Nothing awful happened and our blue-green planet continued to spin. The protest was meant to generate public discourse around the issue and to a certain extent that happened. The story was picked up by local media and chewed on for a bit in forums and, while the letter of the law remains unchanged, perhaps the act of drinking in public is a little less frowned upon than it was before.
I dunno. Perhaps not.
Be Cool. Everybody just be cool.