I generally try to restrict myself to writing about actual sports when I put together this column each week. I tend to define a sport as something that has a winner that is determined on the field, as opposed to by judges, although I am sure an occasional ice skating or gymnastics story has slipped in here and there. There are also many forms of competition that have a clear winner and loser that don’t really qualify as sports, like chess or shuffleboard, for example. This week, I have decided that there are no rules. This is my column, and I’ll write what I want. The benefit to you is that you get to read about my team’s winning effort at a corn maze near Lambertville, New Jersey, on Saturday. That’s right. Count yourselves lucky.
My friends and I have been going to this corn maze for about seven or eight years with the same group of people. The four couples split ourselves up into two teams of four, with the teams determined by pulling names out of a hat. You get a map at the start, but the map is blank and must be filled in using game pieces that are found in mailboxes scattered around the layout. Until this year, the maze was divided into 8 parts, with one mailbox in each part. When you find a piece, you tape it to the map, which starts to help you find your way around. When you have found your final piece, you can then follow the map to the exit, get your finishing time stamped on the map (your start time was stamped at the outset), and cross the final bridge, hoping that that the other team has not made it out before yours. We’re a competitive bunch, and there is usually a good amount of trash-talking both before and after the event. Once both teams make it out and we have sufficiently recapped the tribulations of that year’s layout, we head to a brilliant Spanish restaurant in Trenton called Malaga.
This year, they changed things up on us a bit. The maze was divided into ten sections rather than eight for the first time. We were down a person this year, as my wife missed the first part of the afternoon due to a last-minute babysitter issue, and so we had uneven teams. I was on the team of four, which I felt would likely be a bit of a disadvantage, as it is easier to move quickly with fewer people, and the maze was far more populated this year than I had ever seen it. I have no patience for traffic on the road, and I really have no patience for traffic in a corn maze. Most people are wandering slowly and aimlessly, which is their right, of course, as I assume most of them are not in a race. The signs say you are not supposed to run, and they actually had someone up in a tower this year telling people to slow down if they spotted you sprinting through the corn. I promise that I didn’t actually run over any children (they might tell you otherwise), although I did have to take a lot of evasive action to avoid slow moving small people as I launched myself by them. The design was clever this year, and my team felt as if it was making little progress. We passed our opponents several times, always making sure to hide our maps and to not give away anything. At every point, I felt as if we had to be behind, and that they would be finishing at any time. When we found the final piece, we were quite close to the finish, and we got there quickly. As a demonstration of how crowded it was, we actually had to wait in line to clock out, which is something we had never encountered there before. We punched out 37 minutes after we began, crossed the bridge, and began to look for our friends who were sure to be standing nearby, trying not to look smug. For the first ten minutes or so after our exit, I kept thinking they would pop out of hiding, having waited until we felt confident we had won, dashing our celebration and leaving us embarrassed. When we had been waiting for twenty minutes, we started planning the mockery we intended to heap upon them. After thirty minutes, though, we decided it would be cruel to add on to the misery that they were sure to already be feeling. 32 minutes after we did, they came walking out with heads down, defeated. We felt compelled to send a few snide comments their way, but we took it easy on them.
We headed off to Malaga, where my wife was waiting for us, and we had a fantastic meal, as always. Were we athletes on this day? I suppose not, although we did get a good workout (particularly those of us who had to be in the maze for more than an hour…ahem). Competition is competition, though, and the juices were flowing as if we were out on the gridiron, competing for the Super Bowl. Okay, maybe that is overdoing it a bit. It was fun, we were exhausted, and then we ate a lot. Tough to beat that.
Good sports, continued:
2) It’s nice when a big time football recruit turns out to be as good a person as he is a player. Michael Ferns, who is a high school senior that is committed to Michigan, did something really nice for one of his teammates last week during St. Clairsville’s win over Edison. About to score a touchdown, he instead slowed and walked out of bounds at the 1-yard line. A teammate of his, who had never played a down in a real game, had lost his father just days earlier, but dressed for the game anyway. The coach then put the kid, Logan Thompson, into the game and called a play that would give him the ball. Ferns led the way from the fullback position, and Thompson scored the touchdown.
3) A high school kicker in Washington state kicked a 67-yard field goal during a game on Thursday night. Austin Rehkow’s successful kick set the state record and tied the national record for second-longest kick ever, just one yard shy of the longest. Amazingly, the NFL record is only 63 yards.
4) Golfer Tommy Gainey won the McGladrey Classic in Georgia on Sunday, setting a course record with a remarkable 60. He entered the final round seven strokes back of then-leader Jim Furyk. Quite a comeback.
1) Kyle Bennett, a three-time world champion in BMX racing, was killed last week in a single-car accident near Houston. He was 33.
2) What is wrong with soccer fans? Chris Kirkland, the keeper for Sheffield in the EPL, was attacked by a fan during a match on Wednesday against Leeds after Sheffield scored a tying goal in the 77th minute. The man ran onto the field and actually made it all the way to Kirkland, landing a punch before running off. He has yet to be arrested. Then, on Friday, a bunch of disgruntled fans of Russia’s Dynamo Moscow club, unhappy with the team’s poor start to the season, showed up at a practice and proceeded to shoot paintballs at the players, hitting a number of them.
3) Things continue to get worse for cyclist Lance Armstrong. This week, in the wake of the vacating of his Tour de France wins, stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation, which he started to help fight cancer, and he was also dropped by long-time sponsor Nike.
4) Twitter strikes again. A radio host from Columbus, Ohio, was suspended this week for tweeting his wish that ESPN’s Desmond Howard would retire or die so that he could go back to watching the network’s College Gameday show on Saturdays.
5) There was a whole lot of confusion at the very end of Sunday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Down seven points, the Bucs were running their final play of regulation with just seconds left on the clock. Quarterback Josh Freeman threw what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown to receiver Mike Williams. Replays showed that Williams had been pushed out of bounds by cornerback Patrick Robinson a moment earlier. He came back in before catching the pass. The referees ruled that it was no touchdown, despite the fact that Williams had been pushed out of bounds, because Freeman was out of the pocket when he threw, which meant there would be no illegal contact penalty to offset the fact that Williams had been over the line.
Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday
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