One of my other passions is hockey. The Stanley Cup is the epitome of a championship ... four rounds, 7 games each round, at the end of a grueling 82-game regular schedule. Men play hurt, come up huge, skate on pure grit and adrenalin.
But the real story of hockey is not just the NHL, the AHL, or other pro leagues. It is the Junior teams and those "below". A couple of years ago, driving along highway 18 in January in western New York, I passed a bunch of kids playing pond hockey in a farmer's field. Classic across Canada, more rare in the US. It was a magical moment for me, just seeing those kids out there having pure fun.
On January 7th, CBC will broadcast Hockey Day in Canada (http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/hdic2006/), a celebration of the game at the grassroots level. I'll sit in front of my new LCD TV, eating homemade chipotle chili, watching kids in Stephenville, Newfoundland play the game and adore heroes like Wendell Clark, Don Cherry and Darcy Tucker. And there will be other stories all across Canada that will literally bring tears to my eyes. I'll record it to DVD (I've recorded past years' broadcasts on tape; now I'm "with it") so I can cry again later.
This stuff is purity of life.