I’ve had trouble getting to sleep in recent weeks. I know why — it’s because I don’t have my habit from so many previous winters, going to sleep at the end of a Chicago Blackhawks game.
Oh, no, I’m not going back to them — not after the way managers treated a case of alleged sexual abuse, hiding it so that it wouldn’t damage “team chemistry” on the way to a championship, then covering that up for 11 years.
But I do look at replay programs sometimes, including two from a Canadian network that still show up on my YouTube lists. Last night, I did that, but watching goal replays just didn’t give me that old “game over, good night” feeling.
Then I saw it: The familiar face of the Soviet Union’s hockey coach in 1980, looking stunned.
It was a recording of a game I could still enjoy: U-S-A vs. USSR at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in February 1980.
I listened to a documentary ahead of the game with the half-awake feeling I used to get in the back seat of Mom and Dad’s car. Reruns of TV shows will have to do now for “back seat of the car” relaxing on my own sofa — I’m glad I can still run tapes as well as DVDs.
Then the game started — apparently. I slept through nearly all of the most famous game in U.S. sports in the 20th century, even the immortal call with five seconds left. (“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”)
I woke up around 3 a.m. with another game being broadcast between two teams I cared nothing about, so I staggered over and shut it off. But I slept like a rock, just as if it had been a “live” game I’d missed. (When I was hearing them from the back seat, I’d argue about missing them — changing the radio would always make me insist I was listening, until a family member asked, “What’s the score?”)
So that expression, “Old habits die hard,” has a different tinge today. The habit of listening to the Hawks is dead — I was and am so disgusted by their treatment of players, particularly around the 2010 scandal, that I can’t follow games anymore. But the habit of relaxing and listening to hockey is taking longer to get rid of.
Knowing me, I’ll get rid of it by February… right around the time of the next Winter Olympics. Speaking of sleeping through hockey games, those Olympics will be in China, so there’s a huge time difference to cope with.
Oh well. I won’t know which players are playing for which countries, anyway. The habit can keep on withering.