Tales of the Olympiad ... and support for global beach volleyball

Ed Smith
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You know it should never happen. No way should someone as erudite, creative and intelligent as I be wondering what he should be writing about this week in the middle of the world spectacular they call the Olympics.

No way should an award-winning author such as I be writing sentences so long one has to take a "time-out" (that's where you make a T with your hands and every single person in your immediate vicinity ceases and desists from whatever it is you're all doing) and you go and sit down and discuss the error of your ways.

(T-T-!!) Shall we all sit down together? Right.

I am a fan of the Olympics. So is Other Half. When Canadians are involved, we are absolute fanatics. She especially admires the male gymnasts.

They are so well built that they remind her of me when I was younger, a half dozen or so years ago. I've actually seen tears come to her eyes when she watches them for a few moments and then looks back across the living room at me.

Memory can evoke powerful emotions.

We each have our favourite sports. OH likes diving. I like beach volleyball. Don't ask me why.

Knowing that discretion is always the better part of valour, I will simply refuse to answer. Besides, we've just had a new minister and his wife move in (Marion and Doug Brown, for those of you who would like to know, which I assume is all of you) and I don't want to make a bad impression on him right off the bat.

Perhaps next week.

In all honesty, I think it has something to do with the consistency of the sand in which they have to move, and the fact that they can move so fast with feet that must feel as if they're mired in glue.

I admire them so much that when there's a beach volleyball game on, I will turn off a Blue Jays game in order to see it.

I was watching a beach volleyball game the other night and during it, suffered one of my most humiliating moments of the Olympics.

My eldest daughter, who was staying with us with her three boys for a few days, asked what I was watching.

"The boys and I are watching the Canadian women in one of the beach volleyball heats (pun definitely not intended)." I replied.

"Is that why you look so glassy eyed?" she asked with a smirk.

"Probably," I admitted. Difficult to lie to your oldest offspring.

"Yeah," her oldest cut in. "The women's game is over. The men have been playing for 30 minutes now."

I looked sharply at him, but his face was entirely innocent. Actually, I had dropped off to sleep.

What we have to remember when we look at the medal count is that Canada is a winter Olympics nation, and in that we dominate even the huge countries like China and the U.S. Remember Vancouver? We won more gold medals than any other nation on Earth.

So, let the others have their easy Olympics. We'll still do OK because however we finish, our athletes are still the best. But in the tough sports, like hockey, we'll still wipe the frozen floor with their you - know-whats.

One of my favourite Olympic sports is boxing. My father was a bit of an amateur boxer in high school in St. Anthony. American and English teachers brought all kinds of interesting extracurricular activities to that school, such as downhill skiing, ivory carving and boxing.

Father was really a pacifist, but being of stout heart and body he was talked into bouts for school assemblies. One of his friends who knew he didn't like fighting thought he might be a bit of a pushover and gladly consented to be his opponent.

Dad told me he didn't want to hurt him, so he tried not to hit him. But during the first round, he had my father awfully worried. Dad thought he'd killed him.

After receiving two or three shots to the schnoz and not liking it when his eyes started to water, father thought he should discourage that sort of behaviour and hit his friend on the jaw so as "Not to make his nose bleed."

The friend dropped like a rock. I believe it was at that point my father began to consider going into the ministry.

Having heard that story, I thought I should perhaps begin practising my own pugilistic skills. After all, I came from fighting stock.

The first fight I got into in the schoolyard I lost two of my front teeth and was sent home in abject humiliation. To be fair, she was a lot bigger than me.

I have commented before in this column on the reasons we have no Newfoundlanders competing in the Olympics. Actually, my friend Mel Fitzgerald of Aim Services (now Lawtons) did very well in the Para-Olympics, although I can't remember what year.

I do remember a great picture of him in The Telegram making his wheelchair fly down the track. We were all very proud of him.

My rationale at the time was that there were no competitions for which our boys especially had trained growing up.

For example, rock-throwing (preferably at some student from another denominational school) would have been one of our strongest suits, especially if the rules said you could not hit an opponent higher in the leg than the ankle.

We were great at both the offensive and defensive skills associated with this sport.

Another was picking a seagull out of the air with a well-rounded beach rock and a sling. Goliath would have been dead long before his time had there been two or three young Newfoundlanders in Saul's army.

I would think that if anyone was interested enough to check back through those ancestry files they have on TV these days, David's father probably hailed originally from Upper Island Cove and moved to Bethlehem during resettlement - the first resettlement known as the Exodus, not the second known as the Joey Smallwood fiasco.

Just realized the time. I believe the Canadian women are competing in beach volleyball again. On the other hand, they may have already been eliminated. OK, not to worry.

As a citizen of the world, I'm interested in other countries' beach volleyball teams as well.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Blue Jays, Aim Services, Lawtons

Geographic location: Canada, China, St. Anthony Saul Upper Island Cove Bethlehem Springdale

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