The end of the weekend mail
Far from a typical Sunday because there’s not a lot here but with a football-basketball doubleheader this afternoon and a flight back tonight, I guess coasting isn’t that bad.
Have fun with this.
Q: Doug, given the promise displayed by the men’s team this week, the question in a lot of minds is "how good can they be?" once players like Wiggins, Bennett and Olynyk are added. And what will influence their ultimate achievement more, the individual development of these players or the quantity/quality of time the team has together to gel?
Finally, how important do you think Nash's presence will be, in encouraging top Canadians to participate and maybe even in inspiring their on-court performance. When Gretzky ran Team Canada, it always seemed like the players were achieving for him as much as they were for coach or country.
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I think Steve’s presence has been a tremendous factor in helping persuade young players to join the program, he was proactive in reaching out to kids all last season and it’s hard to say no to someone of his stature.
And I don’t think it hurt a bit when he was on the court during a couple of training camp practices, although he did leave the coaching to the coaches.
I think what will influence what they ultimately do will be how they adapt to the international game and how their own skills develop as they turn from boys to men.
Q: On Friday you said that you had time for "a quick trip to the peninsula today". I know you also drive to some games in Detroit and Cleveland. You also have to drive to practices and games in Toronto. So, how much mileage do you put on the smelly Ford Focus/Taurus each year? I promise I won't tell
your insurance company. Has this changed over the years? If so, has it increased or decreased? Do you use the time on the road to formulate your stories or to brainstorm (by yourself) for ideas for stories?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: I have no clue of the total mileage, actually. And the drives to Detroit and Cleveland only make up three or four road trips a year.
But the driving has remained pretty consistent over the years, I do it because it’s easier, often quicker and you can come and go on your own schedule rather than that of the airlines.
What I do? I spend a lot of time somehow chatting with friends and staying connected and just taking some private time to daydream and let the mind wander.
Q: Hi Doug always enjoy your writing. When do you expect the players to start coming back to Toronto?
A: I would think this week, maybe next. It’s about that time that they’ll drift back in and get together for some informal workouts.
Q: Hello Doug!
A question about your blog.
Do you have regular contributors (ie. every week)? Or does it tend to be sporadic?
Do you see the volume of your mail reduce significantly during the off-season? (My guess is yes - by perhaps 50%).
And how much of your mail can't be used?
I'm sure that all of the mail is valued and appreciated, but there must be some vetting due to ranting, insensitive comments etc. (My guess - perhaps 30% isn't used).
Gary from Uxbridge
A: Oh, there are all kinds of familiar names and e-mail addresses and Irregulars who are here every week and if one of them misses, I wonder why.
And, sure, mail and comments and hits drop off in the summer, that’s only natural but I would say it’s more like 30 per cent than 50, we still do okay around this part of the interweb.
And I’ve never actually counted but I take pride in using almost all the mail I get – unless there’s total duplication – so I’d suggest it’s more like 10 per cent that doesn’t get taken care of.
Q: Greetings Mr Smith,ahhh yes that most wonderful time of year, for us adults(loosely applied) anyways. This year we are acknowledging something of milestone here in the house of Doug from B-ford, our last offspring making their first appearance at the local school. Been through the whole process with the other five of 'em but still feel the emotions as our littlest, Joseph takes his turn. Surprisingly there would seem to be a considerable number of similar things still today as compared to the old man's first day at McKee Ave Public.
One noticeable difference in the first day crowd was that virtually every kid had some form of identifiable branding somewhere on their attire. Music acts, clothing lines and sports teams aplenty including some English Premier League shirts, kind of mind boggling really, the extant that our society has gone to "build the brand".
The schoolyard climbers are probably more sophisticated but the b-ball nets are still there, the tether ball pole, the four square and hopscotch patterns are painted on the tarmac. The soccer field and baseball diamond reasonably neatly trimmed. The school still smells similar, minus the duplicating fluid anyway, presumably that peculiar odour of several hundred kids isn't affected much by designer labels.
So this leaves me with a question, if we accept that kids are not as active today as they were when we all walked uphill both ways to school, and the physical exercise options are still part of the school day experience then where are we failing all of the our little hoopsters, pucksters(sorry) etc?
Perhaps the traffic jam prior to and after the bell serves as some part of the explanation. Has it been a conscious decision to only allow our kids regulated physical activities? Has just being outside playing something like 'Red Rover' fallen so completely out of favour? Has the fear of any kind of injury or negative outcome(you/we lost, so what? get over it you/we can try again) caused us to not run any risk to begin with?
Perhaps the old fuddy-duddy is speaking here but boy do I hope that we don't wind up with a couple of generations of overweight, out of shape, risk averse members of society that come into prominence about the time that I want to enjoy the time that I have left on this great planet.As always, thank you for what you do
Doug from B-ford
A: I think it’s as much concerns over liability than anything and I do fear totally that there will be generations of kids who are a bit soft being developed. And I do think the lessening of the focus on physical education in basic school curriculum has to do with the obesity rate among kids and their desire to sit in font of a TV or a computer rather than being out playing hide and seek or kick the can or something we all did.
Q: What is your reaction to the notion that funding should be focused on winter Olympic athletes at the expense of summer competitors? My own reaction can’t really be printed in a family newspaper. How would your late colleague, Randy Starkman, have reacted?
James A, Victoria
A: I think it’s a bit short-sighted and driven basically by the fact too many people think we’re a total winter sports nation. It’s easier, I’d contend, to win winter medals – the depth of field is smaller – and to some, that’s what it’s all about.
I’d like to see an even split, at least; and I’d also like to see more funding for teams, as well.
Randy was a total advocate for the athletes and would want them all to get more.
Q: Hello (Seemingly Never-Ending Down-Time) Doug!
So, with a couple of sort of big stories breaking right now - Tom Anselmi's resignation and the splendid play by our SMNT in Caracas (which is a *big* story to me, anyway) - how difficult/unusual/frustrating is it for you as a reporter to be on vacation?
I know you've been writing about stuff here in the blog (and thank you for that!) but it must be weird when conference calls, media availability, press conferences happen and you're not there?
Or are you okay with observing from a distance for a little while?
Oh, and only because I have not been able to get the visual of it out of my head and I obviously have the kind of mind that won't let go of life's little curiousities...your broke your leg trying to escape a "charging poodle"??? Please! I must know the backstory. It wasn't The Smith family dog one hopes...! Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: The last week was odd, I will fully admit that; and the next couple might be, too. Kind of felt a bit detached but needed to find some down days to satisfy the Tall Foreheads and did.
I was okay with it, but not totally, if you know what I mean, and that’s why I did a little bit here to stay in touch.
Think woven fence, little kid sitting on it and the neighbours dog, Magic I believe it’s name was, comes running. Little kid’s a tad startled, falls back, catches leg in fence and gets a few weeks in cast for his effort.
Q: Hello Doug... Since you are a fashion guru, now that September has arrived, can we still wear the white belt on the golf course a la Herb Tarlek?
Which Canadian has a bigger upside, Tristan Thompson or Graham DeLaet? Indeed if you had to choose, which Canadian up and comer would you choose...Wiggins?
Since we are choosing, thin crust or deep dish? Pink shirt or off red? Lager or ale? Fries, curly fries, or onion rings? Gravy or poutine? Cardio vascular problems or muscular skeletal issues? Beasley or Sullinger?
When does training camp start anyhow?
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: I can get away with any fashion statement I want because no one seems to care, so load up on the white belts if you like.
Thompson, Wiggins, thin crust, off-red, lager, fries, gravy, cardio vascular and Sullinger.
Q: Hey Doug.
I've been having a lot of fun watching the FIBA Americas tournament and rooting for Canada. I really like our team this year and am impressed with the quality of play. I'm really appreciative that these games are being broadcast on SN360. I was worried that with the demise of the Score, SN360 would just become a derivative pucks channel. Thankfully, they've maintained some of the programming choices that the Score was known for.
Here is my question: I know you're not Steve Nash, but I'm wondering about the team Canada roster that could be sent to Spain next summer (if all goes well) and how it could differ, if at all, from the current one playing in the qualifying tournament. Are there any sensitivities around replacing a player who helped Canada (potentially) qualify for the World Cup with a higher profile player who didn't play during the qualifying tournament but expresses interest to play in the World Cup?
My only thought is that is must be demoralizing for a player who busts his butt in Caracas to help Canada qualify, only to be replaced the next summer when the World Cup comes around. I understand that that is how it goes and you have to put out your best team and best players, but I'm just wondering if you have any insight regarding the process of cutting guys who helped the team get there in the first place.
Kyle S, Ottawa
A: I’m sure if some players from this year’s team are cut from the one that plays next year they will be demoralized and it will be tough to swallow.
But the staff and the coaches owe it to everyone connected with the team to put the best possible group together and the players understand that.
Unlike, say, the NBA, there are no “contracts” and everyone realizes that it’s a year-to-year commitment.
Q: Hi Doug,
I was just watching the Venezuela game yesterday. I was struck by the fact that every time Canada had the ball they were roundly booed. The announcers never mentioned it but as a long time follower of Canadian sports outside of hockey in the soviet union I can't recall Canada being booed so consistently. Any insights as to why this seems to have changed?
Dana, New Brunswick
A: Fans being fans? Think it’s probably just that simple, the passion is there and it wouldn’t matter who the opponent was, there were be boos.
I wouldn’t take it personally, I bet there’d be some jeering of the opposition if Canada was playing at home.