Irish Philadelphia

The Web guide to Irish music and culture in and around the Quaker City

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You Gotta Love The Game, Son

I'm not a sports guy. Hey, I was in the band. But even I can appreciate the passionionate, aggressive athleticism of Gaelic games.

Nothing about Gaelic football and hurling is subtle. (OK, I'll confess, the scoring system is a mystery.) But if you're used to watching pro sports, probably the only one that comes close to matching the non-stop action of Gaelic athletics is hockey. And even hockey seems sluggish compared to Gaelic football and hurling.

Especially hurling. (See photo at right. That's hurling.) Hurling seems like hockey, football, baseball -- and assault with a deadly weapon, maybe -- all rolled into one.

If the Phillies bore you -- and, lately, even offend you -- and if you just don't give a rat's ass about the coming Eagles season, you really ought to give Gaelic athletics a try. It's free, and it's a whole heckuva lot more fun and involving.

The folks who play Gaelic sports clearly have lives off the field. When they play, they play for the sheer love of it all. They throw themselves into their sport with reckless abandon. They don't stop the game just because someone has been minorly concussed. ("Ooooooooh, me fookin' head!") The people who pull on the bright jerseys each weekend are not jerky jocks who care more about themselves than they do about their team, and they haven't a hope in hell of a multimillion-dollar contract. Fox isn't going to pay jillions for broadcast rights. You won't see the play of the week on SportsCenter. There's a raw, emotional purity here that is often missing from pro sports. I had a coach in high school whose favorite saying was "Ya gotta love the game, son." (He said that all the time, even when he was substitute teaching freshman algebra.) Well, these guys -- and women, too -- truly, madly, deeply love the game.

And if you claim Irish heritage, well ... why aren't you there? This is every bit as vital a part of the tradition as the music.

Find out for yourself. More games at Cardinal Dougherty field this Sunday. See the listing on our sports page.