By Rob Ficiur
“Look at how fast those little ones grow up!” “Look at how slowly winter seems to go by!” “Where did the years go?” we ask ourselves as time seems to fly by.
This weekend computer technology made me appreciate time (and the lack thereof) appreciate time in a different way than ever before. As we watched provincial basketball on the internet it was different because we could not see the time clock. The position the camera was mounted on did not give viewers a view of the time clock. The technology worked to show us the score board, but we had no idea how much time was left in each quarter. For the first three quarters of the game it was no big deal – we had a sense of what the time was. It was a good thing basketball switched to quarters from halves a few years ago – otherwise we would have been even further out of touch with time.
In the last quarter of the game it was hard to judge how long was left. Were we hanging on by a thread? With a slim lead do we play prevent defense or play normally? That would depend on how much actual time was left? This was a problem only to the people watching on line. The players, coaches, fans and referees at the event were well aware of the time. If they were in doubt all they had to do was take a look at the clock. To them there was no “lost time crisis”, life was as normal as a provincial championship tournament game can be.
With Gershaw up by about six points suddenly the other team’s game plan switched. Once our players got the ball the other team fouled them. My internal clock told me we were in the last minute (or at most the last two minutes). Fouling is a desperation move trying to get the ball back. It usually does not work – but in the last minute you have to try everything.
Several times during the live feed time stood still. It stood still for the internet fans while those at the game kept playing. The computer feed froze up at the most inconvenient times. Most of the freeze up lasted more than ten to fifteen seconds. Actually I am not sure how long they lasted because we waited in anticipation. Could have been five seconds it probably was not a minute. When the game resumed the play was somewhere else. We lost those seconds of play.
Friday night it was great watching on line was great, the tension was building, our team was close to an amazing come from behind. With the other team fouling every play I knew it was only seconds until the final buzzer went off.
The buzzer did not go off. As suddenly as you can say close that web page, the on line feed ended. Was the game over? Did it end with one minute to go? Did the feed stop with a second to go? What if there was time and the other team make a comeback? The game was close enough they could have come back – but far enough that they should not have come back. By missing the final seconds we were not sure, totally sure, that Gershaw won the Friday game until the next day. Those few seconds mattered.
Seconds mattered in the basketball. Contrast that with a time lapse of years that has grown into decades. At this moment the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are both in a comfortable playoff spot. The last time they both made the playoffs was in 2006. That year after Edmonton defeated San Jose they seemed destined to meet in the Battle of Alberta. All Calgary had to do was win one more against the Ducks. Calgary lost the next two. That was 11 years ago. The last time the Flames and Oilers met in the playoffs was 1991; that was 25 years ago.
Many longtime fans remember the glory days of the Battle of Alberta. The Gretzky Oilers against the Lanny McDonald Flames was the best playoff series no matter what round they met in. From 1981 to 1992 the Flames met the Oilers seemed like a part of spring. Or did it just seem like it happened every spring? From 1983 to 1991 (9 years) the Flames and Oilers met in the playoffs five times. The Oilers won four of those series. Calgary’s only win in the Battle of Alberta was when Oilers rookie defenseman Steve Smith scored on his own net in the third period of Game #7.
Time is running by slowly for Alberta fans. They are impatient for a possible rivalry playoff match. It could be a first round pairing or both teams may have to win round one to allow the teams to meet. In the back of their minds fragile Alberta hockey fans won’t admit it but they are fearing a sudden collapse. If their team hits a cold streak theses first days of spring, they could miss the playoffs (again). The final playoff push – the waiting is measured not in second but in weeks long weeks of waiting.
In sports, as in life, time flies by…except when it doesn’t.