As mentioned previously, I once had a sports column with four different publications over a span of eight years (1989-97); only The Vancouver Courier is still in print. I covered everything from hockey and curling to basketball and bull riding and threw in the occasional vaguely philosophical piece, such as the following much-abridged Spirituality of Sport from The Voice in January 1997:
Professional sport is much maligned these days; popular thought intimates that it has become nothing more than a soulless business that devours athletes and fans alike. Championships are no longer won; they are bought. That’s what the Yankees, Bulls, Avalanche and Cowboys did. Money has spoiled thousands of athletes, embittered millions of fans and laid waste to entire seasons. Indeed, for many, it has permanently scarred the game. And yet this greedy, gold-toothed face is not the only visage of professional sport. in 1988, Orel Hershiser pitched a complete game to win the World Series and become the World and National League MVP. He was asked how he was able to perform so well under pressure. “Hymns,” he said.” I was listening to hymns in my head.” There was no gloating or Disneyland, just the hymns. While this idea can be much obscured by the commentators blathering illiticisms and sponsors hijacking triumphant moments, somewhere in between is something pure, almost divine. We only have to fill our heads with music. That’s when we will truly see Barry Sanders dance through the line, Hakeem Olajuwon loft the soft jumper, Paul Kariya tuck it in the open side and Orel Hershiser look for the sign, check the runner and let it fly.