Sunday, March 11, 2012


Arena Football-Part Two

I am certain that I must have heard this from my Irish friends. They told me that the definition of a true Scottish gentleman is a Scot who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn’t. There have been occasions when I have found that opinion to be most enlightened.

But a touch of the heather now and then can be refreshing.

Before the anthems, well before the kickoff, I heard the bagpipes at the Germain Arena. I was somewhat mystified. The Toronto Maple Leafs always have a Highlander Pipe Band on the ice for their opening games. But for an arena football game? Then again, why not? Perhaps someone should have informed the owners of the Florida Tarpons that the Leafs have not won the championship since 1967.

No matter. The finished up the ceremonies and let the players play. To some extent. One had to expect some rough edges in this inaugural affair; however, there were far too many inconsequential penalties. The game clock was difficult to see from field level, and the quarterbacks lost track of time before taking the snap. Thus, there was at least a dozen procedural penalties of that description.

I could be mistaken, but I believe I have neglected to mention the cheerleaders, up to this point. They were there, in full force. A dozen beauties, with flashy silver pom poms, dancing and twisting and bumping their way through the night, and into our hearts.

The game announcer, who is listed in the program as “Big Mama from B103.9”, never missed an opportunity to say a few words. Between his very loud messages, the music man really stretched the boundaries. There were tunes from the Fifties to the present. Even Jimi Hendrix was given his fair due.

I bumped into one of the partners of the franchise, Andrew Haines, before the game. He and his General Manager, Scott Chadwick appeared quite pleased with the overall reception of the fans. The game was the first to be played in south west Florida in a couple of years.
Several years ago, more than fifteen, in fact, I accompanied a basketball team to South Florida on a brief exhibition run. The players represented the Napanee Guardsmen, from Eastern Ontario. They were coached by Dave Smart, undoubtedly the best basketball coach in Canada, bar none. Smart has a dozen college championship rings in his jewelry case to back up my assertion.

One part that Smart made to me on the bus trip south was that the teams we would face would be made up of outstanding athletes. His opinion was bang on. The same applies to all athletic endeavours, here in Florida. There is a huge amount of talent from which to choose, and both teams were made up of fine, very tough athletes.

Did I mention the cheerleaders? A certain guest from Vermont thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the evening. A picture is always worth a thousand words.

There were not many disappointed fans filing out of the building. The game was exciting, the beer was cold, the hot dogs were excellent, and the cheerleaders………enough, already!

James Hurst.
March 12, 2012

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