Game On!?

Remember that scene from the movie Wayne’s World, where Wayne and Garth are engaged in a little ball hockey in the street outside Garth’s house?  Maybe you remember a similar scene from when you were a kid.  Around the corner from my house when I was growing up was a dead end street,  the site of many a fierce street hockey battle on sunny summer afternoons — and as it was a dead end, never was the game interrupted by  shouts of “CAR!”

Maybe your kids were out today playing street hockey after school today. If you live in the city of Toronto, they’d have been breaking the law.

Toronto’s public works committee recently agreed to uphold a city by-law preventing the most Canadian of past-times on city streets.  Concerned with the possibility that lifting the ban would result in increased risk to the city, the committee has decided not to recommend to city council that the by-law be overturned.  Granted, the by-law is rarely if ever enforced; kids have been playing street hockey — by law or no — on Toronto streets for years, and the fine is fairly insignificant.  A motion is to be heard by City council sometime this month asking the council to allow parents to take responsibility for any damages or incidents occurring during a street hockey game.

You’d think that in a city as hockey mad as Toronto, that there would be many people in favour of overturning the bylaw, but as always, there are two sides to this issue.  On one side are the parents who argue that street hockey is harmless – and given the increasing concern over childhood obesity, that it’s actually beneficial. Parents appreciate that their kids are playing in front of their houses, under their noses.  And really. It’s hockey, for goodness sake. What’s wrong with kids playing hockey? On the other side, concerns about property damage, accidents, and the right of homeowners to enjoy their front lawns unencumbered by sounds of hockey sticks on asphalt abound. Oh, and don’t forget that the “war on cars” in this city is over.

What’s your take? Should street hockey be prohibited? If you don’t live in Toronto, what’s the story where you live?


Game On

The sound coming from outside  is just unusual enough to make me worry, so I poke my head out the front door:

Chip, chip, chip.


Chip. Chip, chip.


Last week, the sidewalk in front of my house was covered in ice. By the middle of last week, it was covered in ice with two inches of rain- and melt water on top. By the weekend, the ice was again so thick that we could have held an Ice Capades reunion show on the paved area that spans the front of our neighbours’ and our houses.

Today, the sun is shining. The sidewalk is still splattered with great patches of wet, but there’s still a dark, decaying pile of snow and ice, three inches high in the middle, covering our lawn and part of the front of the neighbour’s house.

My boys are out front with the neighbour boys. Snow shovels and hockey sticks in hand, they’re hacking away at that block of ice, trying to free the neighbour boys’ ball hockey net, which has been entombed by ice since December.

Thump. Thump. A piece, maybe four inches long by six inches wide, skitters away from the net. A wrist shot, and the ice goes flying toward the street.

Chip chip chip. Shards of ice get swept away. Another piece of ice breaks free and gets passed, hockey stick to hockey stick, until it rests in the gutter.

There’s still so much ice that they could be out here for the rest of the afternoon, and still wouldn’t get the net free, but no matter.  In August, when the umpteenth ball hockey game of the summer is played, when their tired-eyed Moms and Dads grow weary of squinting to follow the ball in twilight and call them in for bed, the boys probably won’t remember the afternoon in March when they systematically chipped away at what was left of winter and threw it to the curb.

But I will.