John Robben of Connecticut has fourteen grandchildren and loves them all the same. One happens to play in the National Hockey League, so it's easy to keep tabs on him.
John has been telling me about Cam Atkinson since the young man was scoring 68 goals in three seasons at Boston College. Now John follows him on his swings around the league, even when Columbus is playing in a distant time zone like Vancouver.
John sent this mass e-mail Saturday morning:
I watched the first period last night against Vancouver, then stuck around for the beginning of the second period. When Vancouver struck twice for a 2-0 lead I turned the TV off and went to bed. I knew their record was better -- a lot better! -- than the Blue Jackets, and it was already after 11 PM and I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.
First thing GM said to me this morning was, "The final score last night was 6-2."
"Oh," I replied. "Too bad. At least Columbus got two goals."
"Columbus won 6-2, not lost. And Cam got the winning goal!"
Well done, Cam!
First of all, GM is Grandmother, Margie, whom John spotted at a church dance in the Bronx, oh, a few years back and predicted, on sight, that they would be married.
Before that could happen, John had aircraft carrier duty off the Korean coast. His pen pal at the time, writer named Hemingway, sent him a letter that said, "Remember kid, if it's rough at sea, it's rough all over." Then John got home and married Margie.
John, a fine writer and long-time e-mail pal (we have never met), never misses a game on television when Columbus is playing in the east. The young man is small by modern NHL standards – 5-foot-8, 174 pounds – but clearly has a feel for the net, with 53 goals and 49 assists in 208 NHL games.
On Saturday evening, Cam tipped in a goal on a power-play late in the second period to put his team ahead. Next game is Tuesday at home. John is going to catch all of that one.
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Here's the link to the screen above.
Cam's career statistics.
The game result from Saturday night.
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.