Field of Play: Making the Father's Day connection | Sports | CBC Sports

Field of Play: Making the Father's Day connection

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013 | 10:50 PM

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CBC Sports Weekend host Scott Russell, left, got into skiing largely because of his father's influence. (Scott Russell/CBC Sports) CBC Sports Weekend host Scott Russell, left, got into skiing largely because of his father's influence. (Scott Russell/CBC Sports)

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It's Father's Day and it's a perfect time to reflect on the place where many of us have made the first and longest lasting bonds with our dads, finding that common ground out there that spans the generations which naturally threaten to separate us.  
It's Father's Day and it's a perfect time to reflect on the place where many of us have made the first and longest lasting bonds with our dads.

There is, it seems to me, some common ground out there that spans the generations which naturally threaten to separate us.  

It's where we might have gone fishing or shared a simple game of catch. Maybe it's the track where we went head-to-head for the very first time and ran a race. Perhaps it was the big rock we dared to jump off together into the deep, dark, lake.

It could have been the precious, once-a-year seats in the "End Blues" at Maple Leaf Gardens. Or then again it could have been the family couch in front of an old RCA Victor TV where Hockey Night in Canada unfolded in front of our very eyes. 
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As I recall in this favourite kind of place there were few, if any rules, and none which dictated that either of us was too old or too young to take part.

There weren't many times that I actually got to that hallowed ground with my dad. He was a physician and worked around the clock. My memories of the phone ringing, calling him away and scuttling our plans are vivid, to say the least.

But on those all too rare occasions when we synched up it was more than sweet.

He's left-handed and in his adulthood didn't have a baseball glove to call his own. He borrowed one of mine and just out of the car, still wearing his lab coat having worked an overnight shift, he taught himself to throw right-handed and put plenty of mustard on it.  

I was pretty sure he could do anything if he put his mind to it...such is my admiration for him.
Sometimes we would go sailing, because he loved boats. He even let me mind the tiller and keep us on course while he manned the sheets, it all seemed too complicated for me to fathom. But then, as always, he treated me as his equal as opposed to a junior member of the crew.  

My dad first caught onto skiing later in life and convinced me to follow suit when I was into my late teens and still dreaming of being an elite hockey player.

"Take up skiing because you can do it for a long, long time," he reckoned. "Be part of a team but also have a sport you can do by yourself."

Youthful energy

I think of him every time I go speeding down the hill at Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains, as I do each and every World Cup season. It brings me such joy to feel that youthful energy even though I'm in my mid-fifties.  

I have my dad to thank for that.

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Charles Hamelin is an Olympic gold medallist and one of the best short- track speed skaters in the world. He sent me a note from Budapest, Hungary where he'd just completed training under the direction of his coach and team manager who happens to be his dad, Yves.

"He's the one who put the flame of sport in me when I was young," Hamelin said. "He was always with me and my brothers whatever we were doing. He was as intent on becoming a good coach as he was on us becoming good skaters. He was able to give us good values and make sure we became not just good athletes but the best ones."

That's the thing about dads, I guess.  

Generally they're the ones who hold our hands as we first venture into sport. They find the time to play the game, any game, and become our most valued teammates.  

For some reason, they just get it and they're willing to pass it on. The impression you get is there's no jealousy when it comes to dads and sport...only generosity.        

This Father's Day won't be spent with my dad.  

He could be out golfing or he might be watching me on TV as we broadcast football games from Brazil and the FIFA Confederations Cup. He doesn't know a lot about football but he appreciates how good the players are and that it's a sport loved by so many people around the world.

Earlier in the week I took my father for a boat ride at the lake. While I steered he sat behind me and held onto his baseball cap, just enjoying the scenery.

It was like old times.

He's well into his eighties now but when we came into the dock he jumped up and expertly fended us off. He loves boats and says they make him feel like a kid again. I figure they're his connection to the field of play. 

And in turn they're his connection to me.

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