Over the weekend, monumental news greeted professional hockey fans as the NHL and its players' union finally reached an agreement, thereby allowing the league to start playing almost five months late and with less than half of the season available. Don't worry, I'm not going to really talk about the NHL, hockey, or even sports, but it is a serious metaphor for something all adults must face several times in their lifetime.
Sooner or later, we all have to stop enjoying the things we used to love.
There was a NHL strike less than ten years ago and I swore off watching the NHL as soon as the strike started, infuriated over the players' union prohibiting their players from "representing their teams" in any fashion during the strike, including charitable events. There was a major charity golf tournament in Ottawa with half the roster unable to show and help raise needed funds for sick kids. My anger overwhelmed any possible enjoyment of the game and I stopped watching for a couple of years.
When I started dating my now-fiance, I got back into hockey because she played and was a huge NHL fan. What can I say? The limit to anyone's anger is getting laid. Now that the NHL is looking to come back from yet a second strike in a single decade, I'm faced with the same desire to stop watching the league. This time, however, the reasons are different. This time, I think it's a problem with professional sports altogether.
I've never been into sports in the same way I've been passionate about RPGs, but I did enjoy them. For years, it was professional football. NFL and CFL. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped watching (there wasn't a strike at the time), but I did nonetheless. I kind of phased out of football. This time, I'm making a conscious decision to stop watching altogether.
During the strike, I never tried to watch any other hockey games and there are a shitload of them around. C'mon, people, I live in Canada. Finding hockey is not a problem up here, but I didn't bother. When that fact hit me, I started to wonder if I truly wanted to watch hockey or just the NHL and if my only thought is watching one particular league, am I truly a fan of the sport? Seeing as I haven't been able to come up with any reasonable answer, the end result seems rather obvious. I'm done watching sports.
Now we come to a scary prospect and is the true basis for today's post. Like I said, every adult reaches that point in their life when they stop enjoying the things they used to enjoy with vigour. Will that day ever come for me and roleplaying games? I almost shudder to think of it, particularly in light of my current publishing and freelance efforts. It's unlike sports; I've never tried to join a sports team or even learn how to play. In a sense, I'm trying to turn pro in the roleplaying field, making the concept of giving up on this pastime nearly impossible. That's probably what I thought while sitting in a stadium in Buffalo watching Doug Flutie take the field as San Diego's quarterback, listening to the opposing crowd rise up and cheer on a competing player and perform some of the most incredible football I've ever seen in person. Yet here we are.
I've joked with friends about playing D&D in a retirement home decades from now, intercutting the story to recall not only the death of characters, but actual players. Will I?
Over the years, some of my friends have given up on roleplaying, temporarily or for good. Sometimes, it comes down to the players they sat with and other cases it's financial or relationship based. Many of us have friends with families and it gets harder and harder for them to set time to play on a regular basis. It happens and I don't hold any grudge or resentment against them for making that call, despite it being unfortunate. There was even a period from 1996-2000 when I didn't drop a single die on the table, including board games. Something brought me back, in the same way something brings many players back years away from the game. Who knows? Perhaps in a few years, I'll be counting down the start of hockey season and all of this will be no more than a memory of a time when I wanted to stop watching.
But not right now. Right now, there's just too much BS for me to enjoy and my heart is not in sports anymore. Call it evolution, growing up, maturing, or whatever you want. I call it a chance to try something else.