Play Makers: Better Than the Beach

The following is a recap of a recent excursion to Boston. While no suntans were had, it is a trip that ranks as one of my best yet.

Living in the Yukon, one doesn’t often find oneself fantasizing about a trip to the eastern United States in mid-November. Enduring an average of six months of winter per year, we Yukoners normally seeking out the hotter climates.

And why not? The monotonous repetition of cold early mornings scraping, shovelling and bundling can have even the most pigment-challenged Irish men longing for the sun.

That said, it’s not often one gets to see three professional sports teams in action over a 72-hour period, plus witnessing a collegiate football match-up simply referred to as “The Game” in a city that’s home to such historic events as the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre and – in my opinion – this very weekend.

Following a few emails, I was suddenly off to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in mid-November for an unprecedented sports weekend/class reunion of sorts with some old buddies from college.

It’s not every weekend one can live the celebrity fantasy life for a night and sit a few rows behind a Boston Celtics team of future NBA Hall of Famers, literally smelling the pheromones of Shaquille O’Neal while doing so.

Not to mention witnessing said O’Neal high-five your buddy after narrowly losing a game in the final three seconds.

I’ve seen my fair share of professional sports, but watching a Celtics game live makes one feel as if they’re at a party with 17,000 of their closest friends, dancing in the stands and high-fiving one another.

Sure, sipping Margaritas in Mexico come January is tempting, but so is watching long-time Ivy League rivals Harvard and Yale do battle in an event simply referred to as “The Game”.

OK, the calibre of football was mediocre, but the passion of the 31,000 students in attendance – America’s future law bigwigs, doctors and Wall Street execs – was second to none.

We knew it would be a special game when, seconds after we took our seats in the oldest football stadium in the U.S., the extra point off the foot of the Yale kicker sailed into our section.

And like a blessing from an epic sports week angel (trust me they do exist), it landed in yet another buddy’s hands.

Three hours later we found ourselves on the 50-yard line amidst thousands of Harvard faithful who had stormed the turf to celebrate Harvard’s 28-21 victory in the 127th meeting of the two schools.

Despite being nearly 10 games below a 500 record, players were being carried atop one another, cigars were smoked and – at least for this year – bragging rights for “The Game” belonged to the Harvard Crimson faithful.

Now tell me about that Cuba all-inclusive.

That night it was back to the Boston “Gah-den” to see the Bruins take on the L.A. Kings, this time from the balcony.

While no professional athlete’s pheromones were in evidence, we did get to sit amongst your classic Bruins fans and watch Boston narrowly lose in the shoot-out.

Bruins fans, as if it were a fine art, can use a profanity as if it were just another word.

They are fans who will clink your over-priced beer and pose for pictures with a group of Canadians on a sports journey that prompted one Bostonian to call a pal just to boast about the trip we were on.

“You’re doing what?” “You gots to be joking!” “You’re from where?!”

After capping the evening with post-game beers at a bar below Fenway Park, we braced ourselves for a Sunday that would see us rent a Chevy Tahoe for the hour-long drive to the middle of nowhere for a tailgate party with thousands of New England Patriots faithful.

Thanks to friends of friends, we found ourselves soaking up National Football League fan paradise.

Portable grills as far as the eye could see, dozens of cheap American beer on ice, a variety of meats on skewers, and even a Boston-accented serenade of O Canada.

All this before a game between two of this year’s best NFL teams and two of the best-ever quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

From 12 rows above the end zone, it was a game that wouldn’t disappoint with the home team winning through a late interception and yours truly winning the tailgate guess-the-total-score pool.

Despite no tan, I walked away from this holiday with some American money in my pocket, a belly filled with the finest New England clam chowder and a new appreciation for the kindness and generosity of the fine folks of Boston.

Not to mention memories of an epic sports weekend that – although hazed by cheap Michelob – will be difficult to forget.

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