Hockey, for example. Hockey is thought of as a winter sport because it’s played on ice and that much ice is a winter sort of thing. Where I live there’s ice on the outdoor rinks for a couple of months a year; when it’s in there’s a continuous hockey game on every rink from early in the morning until the lights are turned off in the evening. Players arrive and depart all day long so the teams are constantly changing but the game never (well, hardly ever) stops. (Some years ‘enough’ of the lake freezes for people to play hockey there as well.) Famous Canadian Writers win awards with stories about it. It’s a thing.
So hockey is a winter sport.
Except that it’s not. This year, for example, the professionals (well, some of them) played until June 13th and could have played longer. It’s the same thing for amateurs: for years ‘our’ season ended in May and started again in July. A few years ago, though, ‘they’ built a massively expensive arena in an industrial park (and closed all the neighbourhood rinks — but I’m not bitter) and now there is ice twelve months of the year; some people (waves hand) play (for a suitably relaxed definition of ‘play’) year ’round.
There is no season for hockey anymore. Not really.
Hockey arenas are often publicly owned and ice is rented to ‘the community’ on an hourly (ish — prominent signs remind you than an hour equals fifty minutes) basis and it’s not cheap. (The only reason that it’s remotely affordable is that the costs are split twenty ways.) It’s even less cheap during the summer — after all, maintaining a building full of ice takes a lot of energy when it’s hot out.
Curling clubs are (as I’ve sort of mentioned before) a little different. Not only that, curling is rather less popular. (The CBC says that something over a million adult Canadians play hockey. The Canadian Curling Association claims that roughly half that number curl. I have no idea where they get their numbers but the ratio strikes me as being not totally unbelievable.) There are ‘enough’ people to pay to keep hockey arenas full of ice all summer. Are there enough to do the same with curling clubs? Probably not, especially when you consider that many (most?) curlers are ready to hang up their gear when it’s warm out. (Certainly most of the ones I know are.)
That means that curling still has a season. (Almost three of them if you want to get picky.) And it’s approaching. Which means that Preparations are in order.
I checked on my brooms — I have a black one to sweep with and a white one to yell with (because yelling requires careful colour coordination). Both looked okay. I looked at my sissy crutch thing (I actually have more than one sissy crutch thing because I’ve broken several of them over the years) — it looks good enough for another year. My shoes? Hmm. The left one is almost twenty years old, the right one about ten (they don’t match) and they’re both wearing out. Perhaps it’s time to invest in my first-ever pair of Real Curling Shoes. Unfortunately the club store has nothing in my size; maybe in a month or two. I looked at the right knee of my sweatpants — probably okay for a while. (I thought about buying new pants but the shipping costs made me balk. I hate shipping.) Do I have enough curling shirts? Well, the tie-dye pile is tall enough; I won’t have to wash one until November or so. How about my stopwatch/sports timer? There are at least three in my bag and it looks like one of them works (which is in itsef a minor miracle: stopwatches these days break if you look at them funny. Insert obligatory rant (and song!) about them not making things like they used to). And my least-efficient-beverage-delivery-device-ever-made?
Hm. It appears to be missing.
Not to worry, there’s a couple of stores downtown that deal in such things. In the one named after a bird I found something promising. Slightly less ugly than the one I was replacing, slightly more practical (well, it would have to be), no potentially brain-damaging chemicals, Canadian and it also came in several decorator colours: pink, black and stainless steel.
My first impulse was ‘pink.’ Not only do I like pink (My phone is pink. My second-favorite softball bat is pink. At least one of the shirts in my big pile of tie-dye is pink.) but pink is marginally more visible so there’s a small chance of me seeing it if I forget where I left it. After all, I have a long history of losing things. Then I checked the prices — the pink one was a dollar more than the black one.
Black it is.