I have pretty much always considered myself a jock. Never good enough to be a star I was however good enough to make the teams at school and certainly always enjoyed athletic pastimes. Like practically any old jock though there have been times when enthusiasm perhaps trumped intelligence while pursuing these athletic activities.
When I was attending university there was a rule in place that restricted a student from participating in varsity sports for too long a time. Canadian universities have always been very wary of the extremes they see in the USA and to ensure that student athletes were students first and athletes second they passed the rules. Ontario had a rule which allowed a student to participate for 5 years in any given sport. Under this rule if you were a good enough athlete you could play 5 year of football and then another 5 of basketball etc. There was really no end to how long you could keep playing if you could keep getting on different sport teams. The Canadian rule however said you could only play 5 years total. Under this rule it was possible to pay for multiple teams in any given year but after you had participated for 5 years you were finished.
In my particular case I had already been rowing at Brock for 4 years when I switched and played soccer for a fifth year. According to the Ontario rule I was still eligible for one more year of rowing and 4 more of soccer if I so chose. The next year I did in fact start playing in another year of soccer. After a game at Brock the athletic director who had come out to watch the game came over and asked if perhaps he hadn’t remembered awarding me a 5th year award the year before at the awards banquet. I confirmed that indeed he had done so and was told that Brock had decided to follow the more restrictive Canadian rule so that I would not be permitted to continue playing any longer for the school.
This happened in the 1975. Brock was just 12 years old then and in fact the only reason I had been able to get on the soccer team was because on several occasions they literally didn’t have enough players. The school had had to play more than a couple of games with less than 11 players and I had volunteered to play goal when the coach informed me that they had no real goal keeper. We reasoned that if I filled in there it would allow him to put one of his real soccer players out in the field where I would have been totally useless. I have heard that some of the players felt I was totally useless anyway but that is another story. At any rate when the AD told me I was through and then informed the coach, I, because I was always one who respected authority, went and saw the coach and informed him that if they were ever short for an away game I was perfectly fine in helping out under an assumed name if necessary.
Later that year I did in fact play for the soccer team again at an away game but that is not where this story ends. The soccer coach at the time happened to be a Scot who taught full time in the Geography dept of the school. I was sitting in the cafeteria one day when the Welsh rugby coach, who also happened to teach in the geography dept. came in. sat down and intimated that he had been told I was willing to play soccer illegally and wondered if I would be willing to play rugby in an away game a couple of days later. Now as a good Canadian boy I had never played rugby in my life. As a child of Scottish heritage I was vaguely aware of the game and how it was played. I told the coach this and heard the same old tale. They were actually short of men for the game so even as bad as I would be I could be a small improvement. I agreed to play of course.
It is possible that some of you reading this are aware of some of the subtle differences between soccer and rugby. One of the differences is the amount of physical contact involved in rugby. I went through a dry run practice with the team the day after I had talked to the coach but without any contact. I pointed out that I would just get bruised and sore from contact so we might as well wait for the game so I would be sore after the game instead of going into it. The next day we travelled to London to play Western and I played my first and last game of Varsity Rugby.
Brock actually won that game, one of only 2 they won that year. I got several bruises, a small concussion and a shoulder separation. The beer up after the game was great fun. The week after the game was not. Nancy Reagan was right. Sometimes you should just say no.