Rhino's Ramblings: The Keenage Games

Robert Thomas

I was out having coffee with some friends when I ran into one of the most intriguing people I've met in quite awhile and as this person told me his story he revealed to me the true spirit of 2018 SSFA 55+ Games.

He wasn't an athlete, nor a volunteer but rather a spectator who drove here in his older Toyota to catch some of the action. He wasn't a rich person but rather he was self sufficient and proud of it.

He spoke about officiating sport for 30 years, being a provincial champion five times over and finally not being able to participate any longer but he still showed up at the games to watch.

His life was one which had been intertwined with sport for decades whether be it as an athlete, an official or just a keen watcher of sports.

A few years back he and a partner had won the opportunity to represent the province but he couldn't afford the trip so they had to forfeit the opportunity.

"My partner said he would help me out so I could go but I told him I couldn't accept his money. So we didn't go but the second place team of two university professors went instead. They have money" he told me.

He wasn't angry about it, it was just a fact of life. He kept his pride and dignity.

But now that he was older and used a cane, sport,  for him,  meant being a spectator. The opportunity to be a national champion gone forever.

"Lots of people in my generation don't compete because for them it is win, win, win. They don't know how to just go out and participate. To be part of the action, to just go out and do something. So they just sit at home if they think they can't win, " he told me, adding "the younger generation doesn't care about winning, they just want to go out and participate. None of this winning or nothing crap."

The games were important to him; it was an opportunity to get out and meet other people. Perhaps a chance to live some of his glory years of sport.

As he ate his hamburger he asked me how to get to the pavilions to watch Slo-Pitch, as his computer was simply a pad of paper where he wrote things down.

"A little outdated but I'm not computer literate. This is my computer and smart phone," he said, as I borrowed a phone and tried to give him the information to make it to Slo-Pitch.

I did my best to explain to him how to get to the Exhibition Grounds and to point out where the pavilions were.

I asked him how he felt about being called a senior? He didn't like it.

"How old do you think I am?" He asked and my guess was off by 15 years.

"Age means nothing. It's just what you think. I don't like to tell people my age. They use to call us keenagers not old."

I told him then these were the Keenage Games.

"People don't understand, they don't participate because they're afraid of not winning. The biggest thing about sports, umpiring or watching is just to do your best, to participate, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose just that you take part. My generation doesn't understand this but the younger people do," he told me.

I tried to help him some more and told him I would give him directions from his hotel. At that point he told me he couldn't afford a hotel but was sleeping in his car.

I was just about to offer my spare room and just before I said something he told me "Don't offer. I am here to watch at the best of my ability. My car is just fine."