Sunday, May 15, 2016


Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR – HOUSTON (PART A) in May, 2016.]

The minor grew up and played sports in an era where there was little buddying up or friendly interaction with the opposition. That applied during a game or at the playing venue and to relatives as well. The discussions in those cases could begin at home or in a different location away from where the match was played. Yet, chirping and ribbing was allowed between them.

Mekkar has seen changes which are due to constant athlete movement in all sports. In his opinion, these practices, in conjunction with the media, have fostered an environment of false solidarity. It has been forwarded through the use of selected images and projected a certain picture to the masses. All forms of the communication industry have developed a fractious opposition struggle and climate of ideals; In Mekkar’s inclination, that is of the worker athlete versus management and still another group - sports fans. He feels this is deceptive and done on purpose to create an illusion for a hidden purpose and agenda. Only, Mekkar is unaware of the who is behind it and what is the payoff for them.

Along with some of his Selects teammates, Mekkar was pumped up and raring to go after they got some rest on the long flight. Yet, as they would discover it wasn’t nearly enough recovery time from the jet lag. Sleeping on an airplane is not the same. Plus, it wasn’t even a charter flight this time. Due to previously working some in the travel industry, Mekkar knew that general rule for body adjustment purposes was a day of rest for every three time zones travelled. The team had crossed quite a few time zones on this journey. On the other hand, many know how boys are, restless!

The team had arrived a couple of days early for the scheduled game. Johan mentioned that he saw a movie house nearby as their bus approached their hotel from the airport. Since it was still early enough in the daylight the coaches ordered all players to rest for a specific amount of time before the team meal.

Some of them began to make plans to circumvent the evening curfew and escape in the evening. They want to get out and get away even if it was just to watch a movie at the little theatre that Johan spoke about on the bus. Mekkar was definitely part of the plotting group. He thought what harm could it be to go see a film. It’s not like they were going to cause a raucous or any trouble, right?

After the required team imposed rest period and function Mekkar, Lasse, Alf, and Johan all sneaked out and walked a short distance to the cinema house. Mekkar had learned from his earlier research prior to the trip that Houston had questionable areas. He remembered statements made by former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman about rough neighborhoods there. [Sports Illustrated; various TV interviews] Fortunately for these four newcomers to this area this was not one of the places to avoid. Even when they heard an ambulance siren on their foot travel, they were not worried at all.

As they approached the theatre they all noticed on the offerings board the martial arts movie Enter The Dragon starring Bruce Lee would start in about ten minutes. This movie house was kind of older and appeared to Mekkar to run aged movies at a lesser ticket cost. It definitely wasn’t one of those monster sized eighteen theatre complexes they have in the suburbs today. All four members of the team bought their tickets and went inside to purchase the goodies that one consumes at the movies – popcorn, drinks, etc.

Mekkar noticed thing that was radically different from home. At the snack bar, popcorn at home has choices with additional toppings offered such as various grated cheeses that they could not get here. Oh, well the joys of travelling Mekkar thought to himself.

The four young men chose and were glad to watch this movie selection. There was also an unhappiness that no other teammates came along with them on this excursion. Mekkar guessed the no shows might have gotten bored with the lack of selections and would have made it harder to have a good time out together. “Their loss,” quipped Mekkar.

Mekkar, Lasse, Alf, and Johan were the only members on The Selects roster to be involved in any martial arts as actual students. Plus, each of them were already big Bruce Lee fans and had seen some of his other films back home. Some that were made in China and displayed the subtitles across the bottom of the screen so the people could understand the dialog. They all loved the butt kicking action. Mekkar was aware that the plots were not the greatest, but he didn’t care. He had a feeling that he might hand out some butt whipping of his own during games on this tour. Thus, the influences for their film choice.

Alf was the exception among them as he had an advantage of understanding a portion of the dialog in those foreign martial arts movies from Asia when they played at home. Mekkar’s younger brother had already learned Japanese and was learning Cantonese Chinese in which he would later become fluent in. At this point it was as a result of Sirga’s accelerated language learning program for him. As with each of the boys it was done for the benefit of the family business. This was just a small part of Alf’s eventual impressive array of languages topping the twenty five tongue plateau. Alf would just pick them up like he had a knack for it comparable to his mechanical ability. Mekkar said, “Alf absorbs languages like we drink water.”

While waiting in line near the snack bar counter to get treats for the movie, they were commenting and debating amongst themselves. The topic was Who was The Man. The other patrons there were unable to decipher what each were saying because they were not conversing in English. Mekkar switched to English as he reached the counter as to be understood for the order of the items desired. He was chosen because his English speaking skills were better than anyone else in their group as well as having the most confidence in those skills. After receiving and paying for the items the conversion hovered back to the subject in their own tongue.

“Bruce is the man,” one of them would say. Mekkar pointed out that back in the village James Bond was the man all the boys wanted to be when they grew up. For Mekkar it was the 007 character played by Sean Connery. All four of them distinguished that Bond was still a fictional film icon while Lee was at one time live in the flesh.

Lasse, Mekkar, and Alf were all involved in the same local dojo back home, while Johan was part of a small city club much further south. As students of the defense and combat arts the four hockey players could really appreciate the athleticism, fluidity, lightning fast speed, and power generated by Bruce Lee. Alf was the youngest of their group but was by far the better martial artist among them. Alf spent the most time honing his skills in the various disciplines and the craft. Mekkar’s younger brother liked Lee’s training and method of using the best of many styles to mix and adapt them to his strengths. This was similar to Mekkar’s view that there were team benefits to the mixing of hockey players, multiple styles, and systems of that time.


Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - PRE TOUR (PART C) in January, 2016.]

The upcoming hockey tour marked the first time Mekkar and his younger brother Alf got to play together on the same team. That is, on a national level and in a formal manner outside of the village setting. It was mainly because of the age gap because Alf was about three and a half years younger than his older sibling.

Since Alf was large enough size-wise and skilled enough talent-wise he was an exception. Thus, the reason why he also usually participated with the older kids, along with Mekkar’s group, back home. Alf was very used to being one of the youngest, if not the most youthful, on any team he played for. Mekkar joked that his brother was just following in his footsteps in that regard, but it was far from the truth.

Now, Mekkar would get the chance along with some of his teammates to haze the rookie Alf in a team environment to introduce him to the fold. One of the tasks was that the younger players and definitely first year rookies on the squad had to load and unload as well as carry hockey equipment bags of teammates. To and from the buses, trains, autos, hotel rooms, and arenas on behalf of veteran players. It was all part of the initiation process and must be done to be one of the guys. All players have had to go through this process and it was easier than on some other squads.

To avoid or not participate in it was career suicide and the individual would be labeled as not a team player or worse, a troublemaker. Those unagreeable individuals would be ostracized and end up mostly by themselves. Few other players would want to interact with them or be associated with the extreme rebellious ones.

Some coaches would go even further and reduce that particular athletes’ playing time. Many would cut them outright, remove them, or attempted to remove that person altogether, through a trade if possible. It was like dealing with a cancer in the skipper’s mind and they want to use a proverbial scalpel to cut it out and remove it. Remember, most bench generals at that time were former players too! All respect for the unwilling participant to go along with the program would also be lost for good. Normally, that player would “hit the glass” (ceiling) and fail to move further upward to a higher level as a player. To avoid any issues, Alf chose to conform to the peer pressure and go along with the prescribed plan. Plus, he has an easy going disposition anyway.

It is important to note that Mekkar was not stupid and would use his intelligence to take advantage of this hierarchy of duty assignments. Even better still, The Arctic native would always have Alf sharpen his skates. The blades of Mekkar’ two fighting sticks also. Mekkar figured why should his younger brother’s talents be wasted. Plus, Alf was much better, in comparison, at this task than the Arctic Warrior. Alf was mechanical at his core and had a lot of practice at developing these particular skills back in the village. Requirements, such as these, were even placed upon Alf by his older brother. It was seen as a privilege to hang out and play games with the older gang, Mekkar’s buddies.

In attending to his role as the older guardian brother, Mekkar felt that Alf was getting an easy time of it on this squad. Well, as compared to some of the hazing rituals Mekkar had to endure in other locales and teams. Mekkar pondered back on some clubs’ past initiation customs. One started with being overpowered by a number of his new teammates. Then, being held down and tied to one of the locker room benches. Next, the Native from the North had all of the hair on his body completely shaved off. Boy, Mekkar flashed back in his mind, and remembered that he itched like crazy all over for awhile. At least, until all of the hair grew back. It was a good thing; at that time that Mekkar was younger then and had a lot less body hair. Either way he felt it grew back way too slowly, especially down below. Yet, right before being held down Mekkar got in some good shots of his own and a few teammates sported black eyes. It was no big deal because facial cuts and wounds are considered as normal to most hockey players. Injuries are seen as positive injuries to be bragged about and also receive sympathy from admiring girls.

Some past personal ordeals and experiences were the reason Mekkar refused to engage in many actual initial physical trials with regard to newcomers. Instead in his cockiness, the Arctic Warrior thought he was too smart to occupy himself in the physical side. Alf and Lasse have a term for it – arrogance. As a substitute, Mekkar would conduct mental and psychological warfare with the rookies because he enjoyed it.

The Native Son from the North wanted to save his brand of dishing out physical damage to be directed at opponents during games. Mekkar’s thinking was that you don’t hurt your own side, but unleash in all ways possible send the nastiness towards your real enemy - the opposition. He decided that the other side should always be the ultimate objects of his wrath. In furious tirades of berserker-like rage, at times Mekkar would forget this self made rule and directed his rage at fellow cohorts as well. It is often called - Passion for the Game - as he referred to it. However, many times on the ice, Mekkar crossed the fine line between madness and the usual routine.

Mekkar was always of the mindset that if you do not like the other team’s excessive and over the top glory performances after scoring, then do something about it. Take matters into your own hands and stop them. Leave them defeated them on the scoreboard too! Mekkar is of the belief that only losers and the double-edged sword media complain about trivial matters such as these. The Arctic Warrior has said on a few occasions, “If you want to shut someone up, kick their butt during the game, but in a much harsher tone. If you get to physically punish your opponent, even better. But, no whining about it!” Otherwise, Mekkar is convinced that the winners should get to celebrate their success and victories anyway they want. 

Unlike most people, he admires the nineteen eighties and nineteen nineties Miami Hurricanes football team celebrations and on the field end zone touchdown antics. The accomplishments were earned during the game. They deserve to celebrate them. Added to that, Mekkar knew some individuals who attended Miami school during that run. He asserts, “Forget cultural norms of not being offensive. If you don’t like it, do something about it or shut your trap and go away!” Mekkar’s attitude is diametrically opposed to today’s cultural environment of not offending anyone. The Far North Native believes Political Correctness has a damaging effect on the culture. Also, he is diametrically opposed to that way of thinking because it restricts freedom. Games on the ice were one place where Mekkar experienced a degree of independence. He is of the opinion that this PC issue is used for control of the people, by certain interests.