October 22, 2010
Whatever your job is, chances are you have your share of distractions. Obviously, athletes are no different - everybody can use the occasional brain-break.
In my new life as a writer, I've found some pretty decent ways to snap my focus like the dry twig it is - I surf the net, hit the fridge, chuck stuff at my cat, whatever I can muster up to pull myself away from actual work. We all need those moments to stay sane.
Hockey players have always found their own way out of the moment. Game time is a serious time, but with all the shirt cannons, sparkly lights and general mayhem, it can be easy to break your Legend-of-Bagger-Vance-like focus.
So, hockey fans, without further ado, I give you:
The top five things that can snap your focus while you're sitting on the bench
1. Ice Scrapers (Okay, Ice Girls)
As everyone who's attended live hockey has seen, a crew of shovel-packing people pour out of the zam-doors during TV timeouts to clear piling snow from the areas where it inevitably accrues (bench gates and posts, mostly). Coaches occasionally like to use this time to launch wave upon wave of integral information onto the ears of his ever-focused team. Who aren't listening.
The people who are sent out to do said shovelling are generally in one of two categories.
First are the dudes in matching tracksuits with old skates that are generally awesome (the skates, I mean - Bauer Air 90's!). They usually have pretty good skaters do the job, but occasionally some bender gets the green light and earns the "must watch" tag, since there's always the realistic chance he might take a face-first digger into a post.
Or in the second, more common case, the ice-scrapers are girls. Perhaps even... pretty girls. Have you ever been talking to someone who's on the computer, facing the computer, and are pretending they hear/follow/care what you're saying? That's what coach gets from his team here. "Yeah-huh coach, stay above the center, sure. Yep, be sure to get the puck d...UDE the redhead's back."
2. Girl in the Third Row
I'm not trying to make hockey players sound like pigs, but c'mon: we all appreciate a pretty person.
Girl in the third row - or first, or ninth, or wherever - is a puck bunny. Now, there are thousands of women at every game who aren't, and we love and respect them like the next hockey fan (as attested by the quality community of readers here). But this particular girl came to the game to get noticed.
Her hair is so blond it's almost transparent. As she walks around, there's just under 100 "isn't she freezing's?" thanks to the tank-top she's sporting. She's picked her seat wisely, wears a ton of eye-liner, and is the X on the map given to you by your teammate after a shift: "Section 104, third row up, aisle."
"Geez coach, had no idea our line wasn't going there, sorry about the too-many-men call."
3. Scores From Around The League
If you're a fan of fantasy sports, you're aware you can get all-too into it when it gets close and something is on the line. Well, when it's real, it's even more addicting.
As the season gets towards the end of the year - take last season with the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins all pushing for the final playoff spots - you have to sneak a peek to see how they're doing. Could you imagine if this playoff race comes down to one measly shootout point awarded in a skills contest after a gruelling 82 game schedule? Ha...what a slap-in-the-face THAT'D be.
It gets even more distracting when the ticker appears to be broken. You know guys gave up on score-tracking the other day when the board reported the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up their fourth straight win.
4. The Trainer Rushing a Skate Sharpening
Equipment guys are like field-goal kickers. They can do absolutely nothing for large stretches of a game, then suddenly be the most important guy on the team. And also like field-goal kickers, some of them occasionally struggle with pressure.
When a player loses an edge on his skate, he becomes immediately useless. Often the best players deal with the most edge-loss (most minutes on the ice), so it can seriously affect a team's chances.
Also potentially lost if it's not fixed ASAP, is the trainer's ability to tell people, "Why yes, I do have a job."
I have zero chance of keeping my head in the game when a panicked trainer looks like he might swallow his tongue. And if he has to run across the ice to get to the sharpener? That's an entertainment gift from above.
Since most trainers move in dog years, you get to physically watch your coach develop an ulcer, real-time. Very cool. It's near impossible to focus on the game with the nervous breakdowns taking place all around you. WHY ARE WE YELLINGGGGGG.
YOU try to sit through 60 minutes of between-play music and not wanna jam out to a song or two. Have you ever watched one of those player videos where they have a guy mic'd up? Inevitably there's a four-second clip of a guy singing along to some decade-old pop song like "I'd Do Anything" by Simple Plan.
*jumps off cliff*
The few-second sing-along is fine. But the in-your-head-during-a-shift sing-along is the official sign that you might be less focused the eyes of Brian Engblom's barber. I couldn't write a successful email if I had "Cum On Feel The Noise" blaring in my head, let alone when I was supposed to figure out who the hell to cover.
They say money is the root of all evil - well damn those people. It's repetition. If you want to break a man: Chinese water torture or five straight years of Three Doors Down music. Either way. That's where hell exits.
At least those days are over. Now I finally get to work in a distraction free environment hey look my cat.