Believe it or not: Football, Basketball, Hockey and Baseball are not the Only Sports in North America

By Ben Hamill - December 20 2015

NBA Season

The NBA season is only just past the quarter post, the NHL season is also still young, the NFL is has so many playoff possibilities that it's almost as boring as most NFL games are. You might recall my screed against the NFL a ways back! Nevertheless, come playoff time, I will pay attention and comment as it becomes appropriate.

MLB has had an exciting week at the General Managers' Convention but Spring Training is still two months away.

There is a lot of Excitement but…

There are a lot of exciting stories this sports winter: The Carolina Panthers may actually go 19-0. Patrick Kane seems to have fully recovered from the trauma of the (false) rape accusation and leads the NHL in scoring. I spoke about the Golden State Warriors and their tremendous winning streak; they've now lost the first of few losses this season. The Chicago Cubs have made so many excellent moves in the off-season that they may be odds on favourites to win it all next year!

All great stories; but now is the time to relate some Canadian sports news in other sports!

Speed Skaters Sparkle

On Sunday, Canada scored five medals at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup. Canadian relay teams won two medals: the women won the silver and the men won the bronze. Two Canadian women won silver in their races: Valerie Maltais from La Baie, Que won silver in the 1500 metre race; Marianne St-Gelais from Saint-Felicien, Que won silver in the 500 metre race; and Samuel Girard from Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que won bronze in the 500 metre race.

Just as an aside, would Canada win any medals in these competitions were Quebec ever to secede from the Commonwealth for real?

St-Gelais is a medal winning machine; she's captured 8 medals in nine races this year.

There was a time when Canadians thought that they were the class of the world in skating. At the World Cup, Korean and Chinese skaters also shone. We're a small country and to maintain our place in the medals table is an accomplishment in itself!

Curling for Perfection

John Epping won the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling for the third time by shooting a perfect score at the Meridian Canadian Open, also on Sunday. He defeated Brad Gushue, the defending champ, 7-4 in seven ends.

Epping made several dazzling throws throughout the ends, yet, ever the modest one, Epping gave more credit to his opponent for his stellar play than he took credit for his own great accomplishment.

Team Canada finished with a perfect 6-0 record in the tournament held in Yorkton, Sask.

Whilst this was the third Grand Slam win for the skip it was the first for his three teammates: lead Tim March, second Patrick Janssen, and third Mat Camm. Janssen was the most emotional of the three at winning a Grand Slam. Each team member cited their hard work as they improved consistently throughout the season.

It Takes Only a Split Second

The Canadian under-twenty women's soccer team won a decisive silver medal at the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football) tournament in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The U.S. team won their fourth straight tournament championship by defeating the Canadian women 1-0 in the tournament finals. Ironically, sadly, and disappointingly, it was the first goal the Canadian women had allowed in the entire tournament! They went 461 minutes without surrendering a single goal before Ashley Sanchez scored in the 72nd minute.

The Canadian women demonstrated such sound defence that observers were sure the final game would go to penalty shots but it was not to be. Nevertheless, hats off to our young women for a wonderful performance.

It was unfortunate that the lone goal came after a blunder by the young Canadian goalkeeper. Sixteen year old goalkeeper, Lysianne Proulx, made a bad mistake on a clearing attempt, the American found herself perfectly situated to go around Lysianne, and scored.

Some unsolicited advice from an old fogie: silver is also pretty good! I remember the television advert in which a weightlifter successfully lifted a huge weight in the Olympics and jumped for joy. The voice-over said something like: "maybe you never learned the joy of winning bronze!"

Lysianne had a shutout in the win over host Honduras. The other Canadian goalkeeper, Rylee Foster, had three shutouts and made big saves in penalty shots shootouts, as well. So, the choice of the sixteen year old Lysianne over the nineteen year old Rylee was somewhat controversial.

Coach Danny Worthington defended his decision stating that the tournament is also a training ground for future tournaments and it was his decision to put Lysianne in the goal for that purpose. Lysianne's teammates all defended her from criticism, stating that everyone makes mistakes in a game and that all too often the goalkeeper's mistakes are most noticeable. So Lysianne will not be castigated by her team. Let's hope that she doesn't lose confidence and goes on to having a great career as an under-twenty player and beyond.

Pete Rose

He's not Canadian but he is possibly the most controversial North American athlete for all the wrong reasons. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has decided not to reinstate Rose who was famously banned from organized baseball for life by baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti in 1989.

More on this story another time.