John is a sports fan, just to clarify, I mean watching not playing. He used to participate in sports in his young athletic days and I’ve seen proof in the form of judo medals and a picture of him holding some kind of paddle (otherwise I would never have believed it!). Although he doesn’t play anymore (unless you count the leg lunges he has to do every morning because I run under his feet), he still supports competitive games through the lens of his camera. Technically speaking, portraying the mood and movement of sports in a still-shot is a big challenge. It requires the photographer to take pictures of moving subjects without making them look blurred and be in the right place at the right time to capture the emotion of the scene through let’s say the expression on someone’s face. I often go along with John to give him a few tips and critique his work, but mostly I go for the snacks. My John is an expert in seeking out and preparing the most sumptuous of snacks (yes I’m a lucky cat to have such a devoted friend). On the menu can be anything from steamy steak stew, whisker lickin’ chicken or luscious lamb crockpot.
When John asked me if I wanted to watch an ice hockey game with him, I had a frightening flashback to square-looking bodies adorned in plastic shields crashing into the huge Perspex barriers that surrounded the ice rink they were playing on. I distinctly remember a bewildered man with thick furrowed eyebrows staggering around the ice looking for his tooth. So I opted out of this particular trip and negotiated a small tub of tasty turkey terrine from John before he headed out the door and I headed to my favourite blanket for a nap. If napping was a sport, I’d be a gold medallist I’m sure. As for all you sports fans, keep up the good work. Here’s a few pictures of some brave fit humans working together to score points by hurtling a puck across the opponent’s goal line at anything up to 100 miles an hour with a long curved stick.
John likes to challenge his photography skills by shooting sports and as he’s the one with the car, the wallet and the opposable thumbs, I tend to follow willingly. Don’t misunderstand me, I admire the commitment and stamina displayed by the athletes in competitions and I’m glad that they have a means of channelling life’s emotions and frustrations through the performance and community of their sport. For those of us who lack the motivation or talent for such strenuous activities, dealing with life’s idiosyncrasies is often a more sedate affair. There are many other options including reading, writing, puzzles, photography and singing. I frequently sing along with John in the car when he cranks up the Michael Bublé although lately he’s been going through a classic rock phase and I’ve enjoyed the discordant and often thunderous sounds of AC/DC, Van Halen and Metallica.
Despite my affinity for peaceful or solitary pursuits, there are many other cats who engage in sport to varying degrees. Tigers like to swim, bobcats like to climb and I’ve even seen videos of servals at the Big Cat Rescue Centre in Tampa, Florida unravelling toilet rolls like it was the most fun in the world. I know I’m stretching the definition of sport just a tad here but if there were organised competitive grooming events I’d be a real contender! When we domestic cats are kittens we form teams to practice our running and pouncing skills and as we get older, sporting activities generally revolve around stalking our housemates, jumping on anything that wiggles or catching small furry or feathered creatures. Don’t judge us, it’s in our genes and unlike humans we don’t have a highly developed prefrontal cortex that moderates our ethical and social behaviour.
But back to human sports and these hockey players not only have highly developed brains that help them make fast decisions on the pitch, they also have highly developed muscles that give them the strength to propel the hockey ball up to 75mph, that’s as fast as a cheetah. Each team is made up of 11 players and these particular teams were competing in the Hockey Champions Trophy 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The teams use several substitutes throughout the game to keep everyone fresh and energetic and they often wear protective equipment such as gum shields as I imagine a knock from one of those big sticks would sting a bit! The ones I really admired were the brave goalkeepers who dealt with balls shooting at them, team members yelling at them and opposing players hurtling towards them with grimaces on their faces, hence the leg protectors, chest guard and helmet!