Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘spectator sports

Sports Watching

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Somehow, while I wasn’t paying attention, it has become December the sixth. I blame the World Cup. It feels weird to be watching it in the winter. No matter what else I should be doing each day, chunks of the morning and afternoon have been consumed with hours of sports spectating.

On Sunday, I made accommodations for viewing a little simultaneous NFL Minnesota Vikings during the England v Senegal match.

Yesterday, the laundry was folded while Japan and Croatia were on the telly.

Beyond the Cup viewing, I wake up and head to the barn to serve breakfast for the horses. I need to go back at noon because two of our horses need an extra serving of feed. Then I return at 4:00 p.m. to serve their dinner. With Cyndie now spending a bit of time in the kitchen, I get sent downstairs to fetch needed supplies and then wash dishes when she is done.

When needed, I hop outside to clear snow off the front steps and walkway. Cyndie has done a lot of online shopping and we are receiving package deliveries daily. I don’t want the drivers to think we aren’t expecting anyone to show up.

The days are just disappearing in a blink. I’ve got about a month and a half of this routine left until Cyndie’s follow-up appointment with the trauma surgeon to find out if she will be cleared to put weight on her repaired ankle.

Once she’s back to walking, we can split the time spent tending to the horses and she will be able to drive herself to appointments. I’ll have more time for watching sports just when the NFL conference playoffs will be happening.

I’m not doing that well with living in the moment since I’ve got my sights set on weeks from now when she regains the ability to walk. I guess I’d rather not think about the current situation. It’s a bit depressing. Not thinking about the here and now is how days appear to fly past quickly. 

Works for me, except it has squashed my holiday spirit down to almost nothing. We’ll be getting ready for Valentine’s Day by the time things return to the usual routine around here. That is, assuming returning to usual is a given. None of us knows what future events might occur that could permanently change what is considered normal.

Makes me think of life for the people of Ukraine right now. Caring for a spouse who broke her ankle doesn’t seem like such an onerous task compared to being bombed by a foreign country day in and day out.

Given that, my routine isn’t nearly as bad as I tend to make it out to be. I mean, heck, I’m still able to make time to watch the World Cup.



Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2022 at 7:00 am

Friendly Spectating

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Of all the spectator sports I follow, the FIFA World Cup is very near the top. The only disadvantage keeping it from number one is that it only happens every four years. At the same time, that long wait between events helps to amp up the interest when the year of a Cup finally arrives.

Living as far from our friends in the Twin Cities as we do, I usually find myself sitting alone in front of our television taking in the grand spectacle of the games. Yesterday, we didn’t let that distance stop us from accepting an invitation from our friend, John Bramble, even though his team, England, was the opponent of the U.S. in this game.

We were entering the lion’s den.

It was Cyndie’s first outing on crutches where she encountered stairs. With little recent practice, she tentatively but successfully made her way inside where we found our gracious host had provided a seat reserved just for her.

With tea and biscuits, we enjoyed a jovial 90-minute (plus minor stoppage time) celebration of the beautiful game. Both sides were left short of a victory since the match ended in a scoreless draw, but since England was favored, the moral victory went to the U.S.

To show his dissatisfaction with the outcome, our host dramatically removed his “England” shirt and threw it to the floor and stomped on it. John said the elaborate exhibition was actually just a rehearsal for the eventual point when England gets knocked from the tournament.

I can relate to that thought process. I’m not anticipating the U.S. team will exceed anyone’s expectations and the moment they fail to advance, I will be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the tournament with no strong connection to any of the possible outcomes.

Yesterday’s taste of watching a match among a group of like-minded football [soccer] fans was a refreshing reminder of how much fun it is to share the joys of watching sports with friends.

Thank you for inviting us, John Bramble, despite the team I was rooting for. Cyndie voluntarily chose to cheer for England in solidarity with our gracious host, since he was significantly outnumbered.



Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2022 at 11:56 am

Holding On

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Sometimes it feels like sanity in public society is precariously hanging on by mere threads. Scaremongering. Election deniers who are unable to provide evidence to support their wild range of accusations of widespread fraud. Crazy claims continue to survive the passage of time without losing momentum over the lack of reality-based proof. No, they just seem to grow the way wind-blown wildfires do.

I don’t understand it.

Why doesn’t truth snuff out the flames? Why aren’t healthy-minded people able to drown out the extremely offensive antisemitic and racist noise emanating from too many varieties of modern media?

It’s spookier than Halloween, I tell ya.

A full-sized Snickers would go a long way toward distracting me from how thin the tenuous line of healthy thinking is holding society together.

What should we believe? That kids will don wild costumes and roam door to door in neighborhoods to holler for tricks and treats?


There is something else I don’t understand. How does a quarterback heave a football sixty yards downfield so that it reaches a racing receiver who is running at full speed and still able to look up at the last second as the ball drops perfectly within easy reach while all manner of defensive mayhem is unleashed around both guys?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if NFL players dropped to the ground, writhing in pain each time an opponent committed a penalty against them? I’m poking fun at you, FIFA Men’s World Cup contenders.

I have yet to figure out how to reconcile the discontentment over the questionable (ahem…bribes?) award back in 2010 of this year’s World Cup to Qatar. Add to that the controversial treatment of immigrant laborers needed to build the infrastructure of stadiums and other facilities to support the global sporting event and the need to reschedule the tourney to the northern hemisphere winter season due to the average high temperature of the desert nation. It all feels just plain wrong trying to fully enjoy the game competitions under the tarnished situation of awarding Qatar the honor of hosting.

I suppose I could wear a black band on my arm while watching the games.

All these issues are meaningless to our horses. They are holding on to their sanity by simply being horses. I’m not sure they sense the climate is changing but they are vividly aware of how many warm, dry, and sunny days in a row we have been experiencing for months. It has become common lately to find the four of them gathered along the far fence of the hay field taking turns laying down to nap in the mid-morning sunshine.

When I feel like I’m barely holding on to my healthy mindset, my favorite remedy involves an extended quiet visit with the herd of horses.

Even though it feels weird to be outside in short sleeves at the end of October.

Happy Halloween!



Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Pond Down

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Despite the promising prediction that our daytime temperatures will warm considerably next weekend, the near-term prognosis suggests we will experience a couple of overnight hard freezes. Our last required act of preparation was shutting down the landscape pond yesterday.

We pulled the pump and associated plumbing and then Cyndie trimmed back the Sweet Flag pond grass and picked out handfuls of pine needles and leaves. We have come to the realization that a pine tree is a bad choice to have around a landscape pond.

The final step of winter preparation for the pond was the netting we drape across it to capture the continuing assault of fallen leaves that blow in all throughout the off-season months.

Mission accomplished.

What’s next? I don’t know about you but I’m feeling ready for a day when it is snowy and cold and there is no reason to do anything but lounge by the fireplace and read or work on a jigsaw puzzle for hours on end. Maybe with a cup of hot chocolate.

I shouldn’t get greedy. I spent a few hours on the couch yesterday watching the NFL Minnesota Vikings achieve their fifth victory of the season. I tried to swear off the NFL some years back but that was a goal I failed to achieve. There are just a bit too many of my impressionable years immersed in the games and the characters involved, not to mention my father’s fanaticism, which still runs in my blood. I watch games now somewhat begrudgingly.

Keeping a distraction handy when things aren’t going my team’s way helps me avoid getting sucked into a funk. Yesterday, I tried searching the internet for a live performance of a song I once had on a VHS tape and haven’t seen for decades. After a few iterations with increasing promise, I stumbled on more than I hoped to find.

I recognized the look of the first image that appeared. Not only was it the right artist in the right venue, I had discovered a full 26-minute segment of the 1991 show broadcast on our local public television station. I let it play while simultaneously following the ever-improving circumstances of the Vikings football game.

Unfortunately, only one of the two versions of entertainment turned out the way I wanted. The Vikings won!

When the 26-minute performance had ended, the song I was waiting for had never shown up. It had been left out of this version.

This afternoon, we have a scheduled appointment for the final step of getting hooked up to high speed broadband internet. One of the first things I hope to do when it is connected is deepen my search for that song performance, using what I discovered yesterday.

Greg Brown with Pat Donohue performing “Good Morning Coffee” on Twin Cities PBS program called, “Showcase,” air date 12/1/91.

Why that song isn’t included in the 26:55 available minutes of the version on TPT’s web site is a mystery to me.

Seems like a good project now that we’ve got the pond down and it’ll be freezing outside for a couple of days.



Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2022 at 6:00 am

Leaving Us

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It’s Tuesday after Labor Day and plenty of fall activities that haven’t already kicked off will be starting today. Our guests left us yesterday for the next leg of their journey in a vehicle that looked to be packed with everything a college freshman would need to get started.

The Birgens awoke in the morning to the news that the Kenyan Supreme Court has ruled that the candidate, William Ruto, was properly elected President in the 2022 general election. One less thing to be concerned about for them at a time their oldest son is starting a new job and the youngest is starting college.

I find myself thinking about how nice it is to be well beyond the years of taking kids to their first year of college. Feels similar to when I began to appreciate getting past the years when September meant “back to school” during the K-12 phase of our kids’ lives.

The few connotations September holds for me now are the onset of fall colors, Cyndie’s and my anniversary (41 years!), Julian’s birthday, and the start of MN Vikings football –despite my best efforts to stop caring about anything having to do with the modern-day NFL. Nothing about getting prepared for school.

I have already noticed the return of school bus traffic on our road at home twice a day, but the impact from that on my life is negligible.

I tip my hat to all of you who have school-age children starting a new bus and/or classroom experience today.

My time with access to television coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament is ending today as we leave the lake place and return home.

For some reason –probably related to wanting to witness Serena Williams make one last attempt for a major victory at the end of her illustrious career– I was inspired to watch as many live matches as I could this year. I was lucky to have captured a few dramatic matchups that were really exciting and very competitive.

A couple of them were almost as exciting as the end of the Florida State vs. LSU college football game I stumbled upon Sunday night during a break in the tennis.

It’s probably a good thing we are leaving the lake place and all the cable sports channels I have access to here so I can take a break from spectator sports and get outside and give this gorgeous September weather the proper respect it deserves.

It’s my favorite time of year, right up there with my other favorite, winter!



Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

Indoor Games

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Walks with Delilah will be short and wet this morning. It’s a good thing we took full advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday because much of today will be spent indoors. The main mass of precipitation is moving away to the east but it has left behind a sloppy landscape and gray skies.

We enjoyed a long and leisurely paddle around the island and schoolhouse bay yesterday in a gentle breeze of mid-morning sunshine. After floating on top of all that water we just had to go for a swim in it back at our beach. On a brief and unsuccessful errand to town to find an AC to DC transformer, we made a stop for the spectacular flavors of premium ice cream from the famed local creamery, West’s Dairy.

It’s like a rule that we have to sample some of their delectable combinations whenever in close proximity –[read: anywhere in town]. I made a last-minute change of mind to Banana with threads of Salted Caramel that didn’t disappoint.

The afternoon included a rollicking game of CrossCrib on the deck with multiple lead changes throughout. By the time we finally sat down across from each other for dinner at the Tavern at White Stag Farm, we both shared the comment, “You got some sun today.”

The wet start of our day today is allowing me a chance to be distracted by television coverage of Premier League matches while trying to chronicle yesterday’s fun.

Spectator sports on television are a guilty pleasure and may be my version of indoor games for as long as Cyndie allows. I suspect she will be seeking a chance to reclaim her honor in the weekend’s CrossCrib competitions, to which I will be more than happy to oblige.



Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2022 at 9:51 am

Hockey Hangover

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Of all the days to stay up later than normal, last night was one that compounds the cost because clocks moved one hour ahead last night. Color me sleep-deprived.

I blame hockey. Not just any hockey, though. The Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament hooked me this year for no specific reason. I had no connection to any of the school teams involved but I was entranced by the excitement and competitiveness on display. Last night’s championship game went to a second overtime period that kept me glued until the winning goal was scored.

The entire tournament offered a refreshing dose of pure hockey with minimal distractions of post-whistle shenanigans and remarkably few penalties.

I saw a player get knocked completely off his skates and he simply got back up and kept playing as if checking is no big deal. How can a high school kid play with more maturity than NHL professionals that retaliate like it’s obligatory?

Four days in a row of high-intensity competitive games was downright intoxicating.

I’d like to say I could just sleep it off but no such luck today. It’s moving day! We are getting rid of some of our old furnishings and two of Cyndie’s brothers are helping us to bring back a couch and chairs and whatever else fits from Cyndie’s mom’s house. The Edina home has been sold and needs to be cleaned out.

We are happy to do our part.

The couch will go up in our loft where I can settle in to watch the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament games until I’ve had my fill.

Replacing one vice with another? Yes, that’s my plan.



Written by johnwhays

March 13, 2022 at 9:00 am

Looking Around

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Our neighbors appeared to be having a pretty big barbecue last night. It was curious because we couldn’t see or hear any human activity around the vicinity of that rather large bonfire. Thankfully, the gale force springtime breezes of the previous few days had calmed significantly.

Between sessions of pounding down fence posts yesterday, I tinkered around with the Ritchie® waterer in the paddocks to see if the last few days of dry weather had dropped the groundwater level below the valve lever. I haven’t been able to turn the water back on and I suspect the valve is seized in the closed position by corrosion.

The problem with solving this conundrum is that the valve is below and behind so many obstructions that it involves a blind reach that would be best facilitated by having one or two additional joints between my wrist and my elbow. When I finally achieve a grip on the lever, the fact that it doesn’t easily turn leaves me frustratedly defeated.

Yesterday, I took a fresh look with a bright flashlight to see if I could figure out a different way to approach the challenge. What the flashlight revealed was that my previous attempts had sheered the line off just above the valve. At this point, I’m really glad I wasn’t able to open the valve the last time I tried.

Time to have the original installer visit with his tools and we will lift the upper portion off the base and repair the valve and water line when it will be easy to reach.

As Cyndie approached the house last night after closing the coop and barn doors, the dark silhouette of the house was nicely complimented by the fading color in the evening sky.


I was already inside, watching a bit of NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball. How ’bout that Minnesota kid, Jalen Suggs’ overtime buzzer beater 3-point desperation shot for the win last night! Spectacular.



Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2021 at 9:38 am

Cheering Underdogs

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Warning: Men’s college basketball sports-speak ahead.

As the March Madness NCAA Men’s basketball tournament whittles its way toward the final four, I realize I’ve had no connection to any of the teams involved from the very beginning. With no loyalty influencing my preference for either team in each game, I found myself rooting for the underdog in almost every case.

The thing about having underdogs in a competition is that you need the stronger, favored team to go up against or there wouldn’t be an underdog. Thanks, higher ranked teams, for being in the tourney but I’m cheering for the other guys.

The energy involved in vanquishing a better team is more entertaining to watch. The players get more amped up. The guys on the bench get increasingly more animated. The announcers voices rise in emotion. The underdog fans in the stands go wild.

It’s contagious. I can’t help myself cheering along for a group of people for whom I have no other connection.

There were an 11 and a 12 seed team in the Elite Eight. There were also three number 1 seeds (from three of the four regions) and a number 2. I guess the rankings look justified at this point.

It’s not as exciting, but I do admire the individual and collective abilities of these powerful high-seeded teams. I respect them, even as I am cheering for their downfall.



Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2021 at 6:00 am

Almost Normal

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As one who chooses to settle for only being able to see televised sporting events broadcast free over the airwaves, I miss out on watching a lot of local events that only show on subscription services. As a result, on the rare occasions when the opportunity arises, I savor the moment.

Last night, it was the second game of the MLS Cup Playoffs for the Minnesota United FC Loons on FOX. This was my first opportunity to see the Loons play this year, so I was really looking forward to the game. Unlike trying to survive the drama of the most recent NFL Vikings game, the soccer competition against the Sporting Kansas City team was much easier to endure.

For a moment, it felt almost normal to see players and coaches entirely focused on the game, showing no sign that there was a pandemic raging unconstrained throughout the country. (I have no idea how that many people in such close proximity to each other have been able to avoid an outbreak.)

After two scares for the good guys that required impressive saves to keep the ball out of our net and hold off the favored home team, Minnesota United built a 3-goal lead that lasted until the final whistle blew.

Now it’s off to Seattle for one of the semi-final matches. Unfortunately, that game will be shown on a pay service network.

It was a treat to forget all the frustrations of real life for a couple hours and enjoy a fine performance by my local club. It’s enough to leave me longing for a chance to see them in the finals, which will be broadcast on FOX where I can view it on Saturday, December 12.

All the Loons need to do is pull off another upset and defeat Seattle on Monday.

Oh, and avoid getting exposed to the coronavirus for two more weeks.

Please, don’t anyone breathe on our soccer team!

I like the part where we pretend things are almost normal again.



Written by johnwhays

December 4, 2020 at 7:00 am