COLUMN: Take a Hike
By Eric Sparling
Hockey refs see it all. Just ask Greg Herrett.
Amherst’s chief administrative officer agreed to meet me for a walk and talk. I’m trying to get more exercise these days. Interesting fact: I hold the distinction of being the only vegetarian in Cumberland County with high cholesterol. There’s a trophy buried somewhere on my desk.
Herrett has seen his share of hockey parents. The bad ones may be the exception, but what an exception.
“Some just show a total lack of respect,” he said as we walked down Victoria Street.
Worst example? A parent approached the ref at the end of the game. Apparently the father disagreed with one of the CAO’s reffing calls.
“This is your face, Herrett!” shouted the man, who then proceeded to punch himself unconscious. Scary part is, the father wasn’t hitting himself in the face, the man was striking the top of his foot. It takes a special kind of crazy to punch yourself in the foot until you pass out.
We were talking about sports. That’s the topic Herrett picked out of a hat. See, this is my new newspaper column. My employer pays for me to get a half-hour of exercise walking with different people, talking to them about a topic he or she picks out of a dozen or so possibilities. It’s a serious discussion about serious issues. For example, at what division is fighting in hockey OK?
Herrett says Junior A, maybe Junior B. Not a brawl, that would be wrong, but some punches thrown between two players to settle a dispute.
“If punches are OK at Junior A, what about the NHL?” I asked.
“Blunt force weapons. Sticks, pucks, Zambonis.”
The Leafs fan wasn’t always enforcing rules. He used to break them. We got talking about Lance Armstrong. Like myself, Herrett falls on the less angry end of the Armstrong-induced rage scale. Neither of us thinks cheating at cycling necessarily means you’re a terrible person, while acknowledging the character-assassination the cyclist engaged in to support his lies was pretty bad.
Now, I hold this opinion because I have very low moral standards. Herrett has this lax attitude, he revealed, because he took illegal steroids for 23 years as a member of the Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting team. Then he said something in Bulgarian to prove he came from that exotic land of flightless birds and giant fruit, but I can’t write it here because Bulgarians use silly letters I don’t have on my keyboard. One of them looks kind of like this: ^)--+
The hockey ref also likes the other ice rink sport, curling. Honestly, I’m skeptical. I think everyone who curls is probably lying about enjoying it. My guess is they’re all paid by contractors who make a living installing ice rinks. The Mattel game Rebound is way better. Less icy.
We completed our circuit of downtown.
“It’s cold today,” said Herrett, but he wasn’t wearing a toque. If it’s -10 out, the toqueless-chill factor makes it -18.
I wasn’t cold. My blood fat keeps me warm.
Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.