Monday, October 18, 2004


Yin and Yang. Ebb and flow. Hither and yon. To and fro. Balance.

I am always trying to make sense of things but as any regular reader of this blog will surely know, I am often frustrated in my efforts. Just as I think I have something figured out, something new comes along to confound me. It's not that I have a dearth of grey matter (in my humble opinion,) it's more that I just seem to be out of step with just about everyone else, on just about everything.

I try to be a good dad. My son loves to play basketball, so my wife and I took him to an exhibition game yesterday, between the Toronto Raptors and the 76ers. I had no idea where the 76ers were from until just now. I looked up the name to make sure I was spelling it right. They're from Philadelphia. But you knew that, didn't you?

The game was held at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. Although neither team is from London, the Philadelphia team was designated as the 'home' team on the scoreboard. Philadelphia is further away from London than is Toronto. It is also in another country altogether, unless Canada became another American state while I was preoccupied trying to solve all of life's riddles. This 'home team' puzzler kept me thinking for much of the first quarter. I didn't come up with any plausible explanation.

Was the home team chosen by a coin flip? Is there some relationship between the 76ers and London, Ontario, that I don't know about? The bottom line is, I don't really care. It was just something to keep my brain turning so I wouldn't doze off during the game.

In the second quarter, I looked around at the thousands of people in attendance. I wondered why people would pay what I consider to be ridiculous prices to go see a basketball game. I noticed a lot of bored people there. Like me, they scarcely moved a muscle during the game and were obviously there because they felt that they had to go somewhere to get out of the house. The basketball game must have won out over (say) a handicraft sale, or an exhibition of watercolours depicting the excitement of life in Canada. I also noticed a lot of people who might have better spent the price of admission on new shoes or a winter coat for their children. We didn't sit in the nosebleed section but were definitely not in the best seats either. Our three tickets cost nearly $160.00 Canadian.

I also noticed numerous pubescent tartlets, wearing just enough not to get arrested and doing their very best to attract attention. Now, I am definitely a lover of the female form and have absolutely nothing against female skin. It's just that these girls were so incredibly young. Don't their parents care? Recently, in a shopping mall, I saw a young girl with her father riding up an escalator. Across her developing chest was a tight t-shirt, emblazoned with the words: "Milk Shake." She was, perhaps, fourteen years old. What is wrong with her father?

Sitting beside me at the game was a father and son. They appeared to enjoy the game and did lots of hooting and hollering. I didn't mind too much, except that the son, who did most of the yelling, appeared to have a somewhat limited vocabulary, even in the context of the surroundings. No matter who, on which team was doing what out on the court, the lad would holler over and over again, "You suck."

Overall, the players were pretty good. Once I got into the flow of the game, I started to appreciate the skill of the players and the speed with which things happen on the court. There was one little guy (relatively speaking) named Iverson who could really move. He zipped around, running circles around the taller players, and he was fun to watch. Unfortunately, he was kicked out of the game for something. That was the end of that. Time to think some more.

Why do these players get paid so much money? Is a basketball player really worth millions of dollars per year? Is a basketball player worth more than a scientist or a physician or a janitor? I believe in the laws of supply and demand. I generally have no problem with workers who are in short supply making lots of money. Still, there are lots of amateur players out there who would work for a tiny fraction of what these guys are paid. Are the pros really ten or twenty or a hundred times better? I doubt it.

I'm just having some fun here. I don't mean to suggest that sports are frivolous and unworthy of attention. My son gets quite exasperated with me when I talk to him about these things. He said to me yesterday, "You just don't get it, dad."

He's almost right.

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