Something That Belongs To Only Those Who Play It (From The Archives)

*Writer’s Note: This is a post I wrote way back in September 2012.

There is an excerpt in Ken Dryden’s novel The Game that might be my favourite few sentences strung together that I have ever read.

“He asked me how I was, how the team was doing; then he turned reflective.  He spoke of “the game.” Sometimes excitedly, sometimes with longing, but always it was “the game.”  Not a game of his time, or mine, something he knew we shared.  It sounded almost spell-like the way he put it.  I had always thought of it as a phrase interchangeable with “hockey,” “baseball,” any sport.  But when Moore said it, I knew it wasn’t.  “The game” was different, something belongs only to those who play it, a code phrase that anyone who has played a sport, any sport, understands.  It’s a common heritage of parents and backyards, teammates, friends, winning, losing, dressing rooms, road trips, coaches, press, fans, money, celebrity – a life, so long as you live it.  Now as I sit here, slouched back, mellow, when I hear others talk of “the game,” I know what Moore meant.  It is hockey that I’m leaving behind.  It’s “the game” I’ll miss.
Obviously Dryden was a hockey player but other than his sport he played, and his inclusion of press, fans, money, and celebrity I can relate completely to what he is talking about.

It’s “the game” I miss.  I miss being around my teammates as much as I miss competing because you don’t have friendships like the ones you have with your teammates when you go through all the shit that you go through together.

It is “the game” that I miss.

Dryden, Ken. The Game. Macmillan Canada, Toronto, Canada. 1983. pp. 236