I haven’t really gotten into the Olympics this year. I’ve watched a few events here and there but not wall-to-wall coverage as I’ve done in the past. Part of the problem is that by the time the events air here on the West Coast, I have already heard or read about who won and that takes some of the fun out of it for me. I will, however, be watching the hockey game between the U.S. and Canada tonight. Olympic hockey has, and probably always will be, must see TV for me.
My father was a huge hockey fan. When I was growing up, professional hockey was always on the TV in my house. For a time, we had season tickets to the Richmond Robins of the AHL and spent many nights inside the Richmond Coliseum rooting them on. Even though my earliest and probably fondest sports related memories can be traced back to watching the AAA Richmond Braves, I think it is hockey that cemented my desire to become a sportscaster. Not professional hockey though. Olympic hockey. Specifically, Olympic hockey circa 1980. I knew enough about hockey back then to really appreciate, certainly better than most my age, how special the gold medal victory by the U.S. team in Lake Placid was. Additionally, I got to witness the joy my father, a long time hockey fan, living in the South, where hockey was not definitely not king, felt.
I still have my Miracle on Ice scrapbook, the one that 30 years ago, at the age of 12, I excitedly filled with newspaper clippings and the commemorative Olympic issue of Sports Illustrated. Today, the memory of those games and the improbable victory by the underdogs from the U.S. does not mean as much to me as does the fact that I shared it all with my dad. Looking back, I now think about how wonderful it was to see him in his element. The rest of the country was finally on the same page as he when it came to hockey.
It is rare that children think about what makes their parents happy. Children are after all egocentric by nature. It is the parent who does the cheerleading. In 1991, my dad stayed up late watching the Atlanta Braves battle it out on the West Coast with the Dodgers to see who would win the division. He was not a Braves fan, he grew up rooting for the Mets. I, however, was living in Georgia and was a huge Braves fan, so by extension, he became one too. Similarly, he donned Georgia Bulldog gear, and wore it proudly, though he was a graduate of Columbia.
So tonight, when the U.S. hockey team takes on Canada, I will not only be rooting for the red, white and blue, I will be remembering and honoring my dad’s love of hockey. I will be cheering for the U.S., yes, but I also will be cheering for my dad and the fact that one of the many wonderful things he shared with me was his love of sports.