Posted on: Mar 29, 2016
St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of a story a friend tells. He was in Ireland playing rugby, a team in Dublin gave him and his teammates passes to the All-Ireland Hurling Finals. That’s basically the Irish Super Bowl.
Hurling, if you haven’t been exposed, is … Well, insane. My friend’s exact words and somewhat startling to hear form a guy who played rugby.
Hurling is an ancient sport, was once banned by the British. It is a combination of field hockey, lacrosse, baseball, rugby, and ice hockey. It’s played with solid wood sticks; the ball is as hard as a baseball. The object of the game is to hit the ball into a soccer-like goal, or through rugby-like goal posts. Hockey-like checking – if not full takedowns – is allowed.
Players wear shorts, cleats, colorful shirts and optional light helmets. That’s it.
The scariest thing in a game full of scary things is that players can flip the ball up in the air and smack it like a baseball coach hitting fungoes to his outfielders. They do this while defenders try to stop them.
Imagine being told that your job is to stop Robinson Cano while he’s swinging. Exactly.
After the game, my friend and his teammates were allowed down on the field and got to chat with some of the bruised, battered, and somewhat bloodied players.
My friend’s first question was the obvious, “How do you not get killed?”
The answer was as pragmatic as it was practiced, “If you stay in top shape and always stay with the play, close-in to the man you’re marking, you can’t get really hurt.”
If you think about it, as my friend certainly did, it’s simple physics. If you’re right on top of the guy trying to swing for the fences the stick won’t hurt you. Think of impeding Cano’s swing while standing in the batter’s box with him.
If, however, you’re an arm or stick length away when someone swings, you get the full force of the stick … If you’re another step late, you risk getting nailed by a rock hard ball at 80 mph or more. Our baseball scenario is now you standing a foot in front of home plate and Cano. Terrifying.
My friend took that all in, looked around the pitch, noticed that unlike his sport where men and women played at high levels into their 40s, there were no elder statesman to be found.
No Peyton Mannings out for one last shot at a championship.
He mentioned it to his very patient new friend. The man from Galway laughed, explained that there were no old hurlers, everyone walks away at the ‘right’ time.
“Which is when?” My friend asked.
The answer was quick, “You know, you plan from the first day you walk on a pitch for that day when you lose a step and you’re a second late when you never were before. That’s it, you go play soccer.”
I’m sure you probably see where I’m going with this. It’s something I tell people all the time, the time to plan is before you need to plan. It’s that simple. When there’s an urgent need for eldercare planning you’re already a step behind.. Time strips away options.
As any hurler could tell you.