TSN’s Sports Centre Top 10 this morning featured the best plays made by athletes out of their usual position. Each clip featured both players and spectators smiling and laughing—some even rolling on the floor with laughter. It triggered a memory.
A few years ago, my son’s hockey team had a terrible year. They didn’t win many games, and the season ended with a streak of painful, lopsided losses. The team was out of the running for playoffs but had one game left on the schedule. A dejected group of players (boys and girls) dragged themselves to the arena.
For this last game, the coach decided the team needed FUN more than it needed a win. He stood up and said to the goalie, “This game, you’re playing centre.” The goalie could not have looked more astonished. Then he told the smallest boy on the team, who was also the fastest-skating forward, “You’re in nets.” He told the others, “If you’re a forward, today you play defence. If you’re defence, today you’re a forward.
The atmosphere in the locker room changed instantly from doldrums to excited chatter. The kids knew—blow-out or not—this was going to be FUN.
The goalie, who hadn’t played anything but goal since he was 6 years old, put his equipment on a child who had never played goal before. They laughed as the much smaller child struggled to walk in unfamiliar equipment two sizes too big. The goalie grinned and waved to his parents as he skated to centre ice—in his goalie skates. Defenders took off down the ice with glee. (Didn’t score any goals, mind you.) The forwards did their best to restrain their natural urge to take off with the puck. Often they forgot themselves and had to scramble back to a defensive position. They channeled their energy into skating hard with oncoming opponents. The whole time, the players smiled and laughed. When my son came off the ice, he said, “That was FUN!”
That small, fast forward in goalie equipment two sizes too big didn’t let in a goal until late in the third period, and that one was disputed (by we parents in the stands) as being questionable due to goalie interference.
The final score was 1-0 for the other team. On paper, our team lost; in every other way, they won. They didn’t expect to win, so they ended up not caring if they won or lost. They just had fun playing a game they loved.
Every once in a while, just for fun, we need to turn things inside-out.