Last week, I had the pleasure of covering the 2014 NL Winter Games in Clarenville for TC Media and this publication.
© Compass file photo
Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.
It was my second experience with the Newfoundland Games. Two years prior I covered the Summer Games in Carbonear-Harbour Grace.
While this time was only for a couple of days, there are a couple of things that I took note of that were the same for both.
One is the pure chaos the Games are. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just they are a whirlwind of activity.
There are multiple sports happening at multiple venues at the same time.
Personally, on Day 1 of the Games I went from Riverside Elementary to White Hills and back again in the span of a half hour. At the end of the day, there are stories to file and preparations for the following day’s events with fresh ledes to follow and interviews to arrange.
If that’s not chaos, I’m not sure what is.
However it’s fine. It doesn’t really bother you that you’re being pulled in gazillion directions at once.
All that matters is making sure you do everything in your power to make sure everyone gets a fair shake.
You meet people you might have missed during the week and speak with athletes who might not normally get spoken too.
It really tests you to be thrown into an environment that demands all of your energy in a short period of time.
It’s freakin’ fantastic.
What you burn in gas, you make up for in adrenaline.
The No. 2 thing is the Games are not really about the games.
Sure, everyone wants to medal and perform to the best of their abilities.
But, watching the athletes interact with each other made me realize something else was at play there.
There were friends to be made, new experiences and memories that will stay with them to the end.
They may be unknown to each other at the start, but by the end, the athletes are cracking jokes and laughing like lifelong friends.
Athletics have never been completely about the performance. It’s important to remember that.
Not everyone plays a game with the intention of being the next Sidney Crosby or Michael Jordan in their respective sports.
Some have a desire to become a better person, or a better friend. Some want to make new friends and explore a world that, before, was alien to them.
It’s why we start them young. Getting them involved quickly means they grow up with a circle of friends they will interact with on a daily basis.
Registering them young means they start learning respect, amongst other things, earlier than most.
Now the Games are over. The athletes will return to their schools, or their club teams with new visions and experiences to share.
But, they will always remember that girl from St. John’s I hung out with in the lunch room or the boy I shared basketball tips with.
Where last week the Games were about, now, they’re about nostalgia.
— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at email@example.com.