A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘sports

[URBAN NOTE] “Legalized skating on Grenadier Pond a small win for Torontonians”

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While skating in High Park does sound delightful, I do hope for the sake of–among others–The Globe and Mail‘s Marcus Gee that Grenadier Pond turns out to be consistently solid enough for skating. Sometimes regulations are a burden; sometimes, they’re life-saving.

About a year back, breaking with custom, Toronto city council actually did something sensible: it ended a ban on skating on Grenadier Pond.

Skaters have been going out on the long pond in the southwest corner of High Park for a century and more. Archival photos show women in long skirts and overcoats lacing up their skates.

It is a wonderful Toronto experience. When I took to the ice on Monday morning, a middle-aged man with his shoes in a backpack was sailing around on long speed skates, his hands linked behind his back as he took big swaying strides. A couple of guys were playing shinny, using their bags as goalposts. A woman in a parka with the hood pulled up against the stiff breeze was skating alongside her dog.

One of the delights of pond skating is simply observing the ice, so different from the monochrome man-made stuff. Grenadier’s went from a cloudy white at the shallower end to an almost translucent black in deeper parts, marked here and there with circular white patches that looked like miniature galaxies in deep space. It is no wonder that Grenadier regulars wait with sharpened blades for a cold snap that will turn the pond into the city’s biggest outdoor rink.

In recent years, city officials concerned about safety and (more the point) liability issues tried to shut the party down. “No skating” signs went up. Those who ventured onto the pond sometimes found city bylaw officers hollering at them from the shore to cease and desist. They were, after all, violating Section 608-21 B of the Toronto Municipal Code, stating that, “No person shall access or skate on a natural ice surface in a park where it is posted to prohibit it.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 16, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[AH] What would it take for the Buffalo Bills to move to Toronto?

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When I visited the Microsoft Store in the Eaton Centre at the beginning of December, I was interested to see that among the covers for the Surface Pro 4 that this store carried were some carrying the logo of the AFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo Bills for the Toronto market #toronto #eatoncentre #microsoftstore #surface #buffalobills

Clearly, this store’s inventory came from someone who knew Toronto’s history with this team.

The intermittent efforts of urbanists and regionalists to make Toronto part of a cross-border megalopolis, one stretching west along the shoreline of Lake Ontario from Toronto up the Niagara River to Buffalo, have really not worked out. There’s not enough binding the Golden Horseshoe together, never mind roping the American side of the Niagara River into a community divided by relatively impermeable borders. The only readily visible sign that such a community exists lies in the relative popularity of the Buffalo Bills in the Greater Toronto Area.

As early as 2007, there were seriously concerns that the Buffalo Bills might be moved to Toronto in its owners’ search for a larger and richer market. For a few years, the Buffalo Bills even held home games in Toronto’s Rogers Centre. In 2014, these came to an end, as the people concerned decided the games just were not worth it.

Even if the owners had wanted to move, Toronto, I think, would have been a difficult market. Mine is just not a good sports city from the perspective of high-performing teams or popular teams, whether you look at Toronto FC or the Argonauts or the Maple Leafs. Perhaps the Raptors might be an exception? There would have been controversy surrounding the move at the Buffalo end, as well as at the Canadian end–an AFL intrusion into Canadian football territory would have been controversial.

Could it have happened? What would it have taken for this to occur?

Written by Randy McDonald

January 3, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Ice swimming in Toronto: The freezing sport people are warming up to”

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CBC News’ Laura DaSilva reports on ice swimming in Toronto. This actually might have some appeal for me.

While most people in Toronto are bundling up in parkas, trying to keep warm, others are stripping down to Speedos and jumping into Lake Ontario.

Ice swimming, also known as winter swimming, is an extreme sport gaining popularity across the GTA and around the world.

And we’re not talking quick dips. It involves distance swimming in water 5 C or colder.


“It’s invigorating,” said Hamilton-based ice swimmer Loren King. “It makes you feel alive.”

King, who also teaches political science at Wilfrid Laurier University, started diving into frigid Lake Ontario a few years ago to prepare for a swim across the English Channel. “I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the changes in temperature.”

Then he was hooked.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto’s housing market is now hotter than Vancouver’s.
  • The Crux looks at progress in human reproductive technology, including in ectogenesis.
  • D-Brief looks at a new simulation of an asteroid impacting the ocean.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on a French cement truck made into a giant mirrored disco ball.
  • In Media Res’ Russell Arben Fox writes about the benefits of reading the Old Testament.
  • Language Hat considers the experiences of one man trying to learn Avar.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money suggests Obama’s evaluation of his historical touchstone personalities is off.
  • The Map Room Blog looks at Soviet spy maps.
  • The Planetary Society Blog tries to figure out space policy under the Trump Administration.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia’s loss of sporting events and argues that Circassian language and culture are threatened with extinction.
  • Arnold Zwicky talks about two unusual flowers.

[LINK] “China Wants To Be The Next Hockey Heavyweight”

Over at Vice Sports, Sheng Peng describes the heavy investments being made into China into making China a hockey superpower. Russia is playing a particularly large role, in providing training and guidance, but there are also influences from Europe.

There is no Chinese word for “puck.” In fact, the most literal translation for “bingqiu”—Chinese for hockey—is “ice ball.” The Chinese are about as familiar with hockey as Wayne Gretzky is with badminton.

Yet off the West 4th Ring of Beijing on Sept. 5, 2016, the Kunlun Red Star were taking the ice for their home debut at LeSports Center. The Red Star are the newest franchise of the Russian-based KHL, thought to be the second-best league in the world after the NHL. In other words, what were they doing here?

[. . .]

China wants to flex again, as it did during the 2008 Summer Olympics. This time, the country is training to be a hockey heavyweight. Like Russia, the United States, or Canada. Really.

China has the capital. And right now, it has the motivation: In just six short years, all eyes will once again be on Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

China, as host country, will have a chance to field squads for both the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments. In arguably the Games’ most prestigious event, the hunger to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world is naturally greater. Not that far behind, also, is the specter of the “sick man of Asia”, which has dogged the Middle Kingdom’s last century.

But how can China transform its IIHF 37th-ranked men’s national team, which plays literally three rungs below the elite, into a unit with even a puncher’s chance in 2022?

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Everyone loves the CFL (except Toronto)”

The Globe and Mail‘s Cathal Kelly takes a look at the utter failure of the CFL to get Torontonians interested–or keep them interested, at least–in Canadian football, in the Toronto Argonauts, and in the Grey Cup being held this weekend.

On Sunday, we’ll get to watch how the Canadian Football League celebrates the demise of its franchise in the country’s largest city. It died during summer, but we’ve waited this long for the party. Attendance will be grudging. Then, they’ll play a game no one here cares about.

The only mourners – the rest of the CFL – are still stuck in the first stage of grief, which is denial.

“The goal for me is perpetuating the future of the CFL,” commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said this week, making the league sound rather like a coma patient. “It is really focused on making sure that the next 104 Grey Cups are as successful as the last 104.”

There’s a problem with that sentence. It assumes that this weekend’s 104th Grey Cup is already “successful.” By any reasonable measure, it isn’t. It’s a public-relations disaster. The only way it could get worse is if a piece of space debris crashes into BMO Field during the anthem.

On Wednesday, the Toronto Argonauts announced that there were “less than” 2,000 seats remaining for the game. This was framed as exciting news, rather than what it is – an admission of defeat.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Beyond the Beyond notes an upcoming exhibition of photos of Vaclav Havel.
  • blogTO notes a local controversy over the demolition of a community-built skate park.
  • Centauri Dreams considers how advanced starfaring civilizations might deal with existential threats.
  • Crooked Timber looks at how presidential debates could be used to teach logic.
  • Language Hat examines the origins of the evocative Slavic phrase “they perished like Avars.”
  • Language Log notes how “Molotov cocktail” was confused by a Trump manager with “Mazel tov cocktail”.
  • The LRB Blog notes Brexit-related insecurity over the rule of law in the United Kingdom.
  • The Map Room Blog notes an exhibition in Maine of Acadian-related maps.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the Hong Kong press has been influenced by advertisers.
  • The NYRB Daily looks an exhibition of abstract expressionism.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at what we can learn from Rosetta.
  • Savage Minds considers the place of archeology in anthropology.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Belarus’ commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution and considers the dispute in Kazakhstan as to whether the country should be known as Qazaqstan.