It goes without saying that the relationship between fathers and sons is a fundamental part of sport heritage.
Many of the foundational events and moments, often really the first sporting memories, involve fathers. Fathers taking sons to games, to practice, teaching them to catch at ball, and so on. There’s a reason why the final scene in Field of Dreams is so moving, because so many have had similar memories with their fathers. Sport has a way of connecting fathers and sons. Its a cliche, but some cliches have a way of being true as well.
I can’t remember a time when sport wasn’t a part of my relationship with my dad. Some of my earliest memories – taking me to an Edmonton Oilers game, or to practice at the old Parkland arena, or, indeed, going down to the little park at the end of our block to have a catch – involve both sport and my dad. Not all of the memories were pleasant, of course. As the father of two goalies, my dad often had to know when best to let both my brother and I be to stew over a bad game or goal. He never got on us for having a bad game. I appreciated that. When I stopped playing hockey, through a combination of ability and injury, my relationship with my dad changed. Not badly, mind you, but it took some time for both of us to reconfigure, and to find some common ground again. I’m sure it was tough for him to adjust, as it was tough for me to find what my post-athletics identity was going to be. Thankfully, again, dad gave me the space to figure it out. I hope I’ll be able to do that with my son.
Living in a different city – a different country – I don’t get to see or talk to my dad as often as I once did. I miss going to games with him, just sitting along the first base line or at the hashmarks of the faceoff dot, and just shooting the shit. I miss that he can’t just pop around and tell his grandson all of the sports stories I’ve heard a thousand times. I miss my dad. Today is his birthday, and I just wanted to say that his guidance, influence, and love was the best legacy I could have received.
Thanks, Papi, and I love you.