Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

November 24, 2009

Real Salt Lake's MSL soccer champs and "hocker"!

I haven't watched a full professional soccer game ever in my life, either on tv or in real life. But I was constrained to watch it all Sunday night, even enjoyed it with two OTs and game-deciding penalty kicks, as my home state Utah's pro team Real Salt Lake beat the highly touted Beckham-Donovan tandem and LA Galaxy for the MLS championship. This victory was even more personal because three of my kids, Erin, Shannon and Conn, work for RSL's corporate sponsor Xango, and Conn even got to go on a Xango bus to Seattle to catch the victory at the stadium and even relive a few memories of a family trip there when he was a kid. Erin watched the final kick with me while we enjoyed a warm, crackling fireplace.

Conn was our only soccer player as a kid, the only one in the family who even wanted to do that running and kicking thing, so we supported him till he got too tall and lead-footed to look natural out there among the shorter set. Soccer has always been hard for me to watch. I was also reminded of my soccer daze in junior high and other related memories, and my epiphany one night listening to the radio - how could I make soccer more interesting for me? And hockey too, since I had a daughter Caitilin marry a Swedish-speaking hockey puck, Kurt Summerhays, who had grown up on the ice. So I combined the name and the actions to come up with what follows...

"Now that I’m older and “wiser”, I have a lot more questions than answers. Like why is sports talk radio so lame sometimes? So I’m riding down the street one day after work listening to my favorite drive-time end-of-work-day ad nauseum local sports roundup/talk-show/trivia show. It’s open-phone Friday and anything goes. He suggests people call in about the local college Spring football scrimmages, will Tiger Woods win another (ho-hum) Master‘s tournament, anything related to hockey or soccer, and what is your favorite Campbell’s soup. Since I couldn’t decide on my favorite soup, or maybe just didn’t want to reveal something that personal to the listening audience, I had an idea for a call-in about hockey and soccer.

"Since I really hate hockey and was never very good at soccer, my mind shifted gears as I picked up freeway speed, and I wondered if there was room in the galaxy for a new sport, a hybrid of hockey and soccer. I pondered. I mused. I went back to those painful days in Junior High when as a budding soccer fullback, I couldn’t kick the ball 20 feet while guys much smaller and faster than I could make it sail a mile. And it was so embarrassing to come flying at that ball and miss it completely with one leg up in the air as I watched someone else kick it past me. And those grassy face burns! I never got the hang of a head butt on a flying ball either.

"I don’t mind watching a World Cup game or so every four years. But I get so exhausted watching those guys run that field, that I have to get up for a drink every five minutes – yet I’m afraid to leave the tv because someone might actually score a goal and I might miss the only point in the whole game and hear some sportscaster get his shot at fame by yelling GOOOOAALLLLLL!!!! A goal is almost anticlimactic and antithetical to all that running around, though. And this is the most popular sport in the world? If you count how many countries deem it their primary sports pastime, yes. But I don’t get it. I lived in Brazil for a few years and it was big. Pele big! World champs big! Kids started kicking things in the air before they could walk. My oldest son spent a few years in Ireland and it rivals beer drinking there. Pub ball they call it. He now flies to any big match in the world to be a part of it.

"But I think that the difference between Americans and the rest of the world with regard to soccer is this - we are not raised kicking a ball around with our feet, no matter how nimble or dainty it makes us. But rather we learn to play ball with our hands – baseball, football, basketball, where we make connections with people in a game of catch, or where we see points scored more quickly. And maybe there’s a message in there about the world’s greatest industrial power – we didn’t do it with our feet!

"We’re a hands-on society where we knuckle down, get a handle on things, don’t fumble the ball, throw a touchdown, pitch a strike, or shoot a basket with nothing but net. We are the supreme ball handlers – and dropping the ball or having to punt the ball is a metaphor for messing up. The only thing we do with our feet is dance – and yes, you guys that dance the samba and tango and rumba – well, I’m sure it helps your soccer game, but mostly shows off your hip swivel. And while swiveling is not our forte, we can do it in a pinch in the games of football, basketball and baseball – that IS our dance!

"And hockey? Canadian, eh? No comment. OK, I’ll comment. Once in a while I might accidently and unavoidably glimpse a game while careening though the tv channels – but I move on as quickly as possible. And my youngest daughter married a hockey player, to boot!!! I might give it five seconds – the game, not their marriage. But I really don’t get it at all. It’s just pummeling and clobbering to me, and that’s why they need all that gear. Just way too much uniform for the size of that little black thing.

"Where’d they get that game piece anyway? And why the name PUCK? Isn’t that the name of some Shakespearean character? I can’t even follow it. I never see it go into the net. And the rink is just too small. I think that’s why they fight so much, the way animals act when they get all caged up and live in too small of an area, right? And I think a goal in this game is really just incidental to the fighting, because it seems to me that that’s what the fans really want to see. I think the guys should just wear speedos and make it more graceful and gracious out there – just see how much fighting they’d do then!

"So my response to a topic on hockey and soccer, though I was too chicken to call in at the time, is to suggest that they create a new sport and call it HOCKER! My game of hocker would be played on a soccer-size ice rink so the skaters can really have room to move around and thus eliminate the claustrophobic need to battle each other. They wouldn’t get so tired running up and down the field either and I could watch it longer without getting so worn out too. I would retain the sticks, do away with the puck, which you’d never see anyway, and just keep the soccer ball, maybe make it red so you could actually follow it around the rink. A soccer ball being maneuvered with a hockey stick on ice could be fun and freaky too if it started bouncing around. It would be a lot faster than running, unencumbered with heavy gear. Just soccer uniforms with helmets and shin guards. Yes, maybe speedos with knee pads.

"And instead of pummeling to express their machismo, there’d be a lot of spitting. Thus the name Hocker – because I’m sure these guys could hock up some big ones! Maybe even use the biggest one as a tie-breaker! Maybe a distance spit for extra points. At least there’d be a lot more scoring. Hocker. Now there’s a game I could get into. I get all choked up just thinking about it. Excuse me while I hock up a big one - “Oh, sorry, Officer, didn’t see your car out the window there. You’re going to give me a ticket for hocking on your windshield? I think I've got some hocker cleaner in here somewhere...”


  1. Gross...Hocker! Oh Dad you make me laugh. I didn't even think about watching the game on TV. I wish I would have. But alas the one good thing I got out of Conn going to Seattle was a GIANT Washington FUJI apple. Can't wait to gobble it up! :)