Sober Second Thoughts – Panic in the Roundabout

Deep breaths...deep breaths

Some admin before we get going. On Thursday, I will be debuting the paid component to this newsletter. I’ve decided on a price of $10 per month. What that will give you is access to my previews for the MLS season (released Thursday) as well as previews for the CanPL season, Olympic women’s tournament, Gold Cup, Euro, Concacaf World Cup qualifying final round and MLS Playoffs. Writing previews requires a lot of research hours, which is why I’m putting them behind the paywall. The regular newsletter, which will continue to aspire to five posts per week, will remain free.

Now back to our regular programming…

Without the moment it would have been a pretty normal and mostly forgettable friendly.

Jesse Fleming had a nice goal. Janine Beckie finally put in the type of performance that has made her a regular on one of the biggest women’s teams in the world. Évelyne Viens got herself a goal.

A nice day at the office, but not necessarily the most exciting or informative of games. It’s likely that the biggest takeaway that most fans would have had was that the game was played in a stadium where they could watch a roundabout in Cardiff. The British ex-pats watching were having a delightful time spotting back-home sites.

It was no Phillips Bakery, but it was passing the time during a pretty one-sided game.

However, a darker sight will be what I personally remember this game for. It was a sight that any Canadian fan would have long feared that they might one day see and, terrifyingly, might still be significant.

That sight? Pretty easy to identify if you were watching the game. It was Christine Sinclair pounding her fist on the ground in pain midway through the first half.

Apparently goats aren’t immune to injury.

When Sinclair went down, nearly 20 years of Canadian soccer history flashed before my eyes. It’s difficult to comprehend the length of Sinclair’s time on the scene. Trying to comprehend or articulate her importance to the game here is nearly impossible. The thought, however brief, that her time was ending suddenly on a non-descript Friday night in a stadium off a roundabout in Cardiff was almost too much to bear.

Eventually she stood up and walked off the pitch without help, but was immediately subbed off. After the match we learned that the injury wasn’t as bad as we thought and that she may yet play in tomorrow’s match versus England.

I think I speak for most of Canada when I say PLEASE GOD NO DO NOT PLAY HER IN A MEANINGLESS FRIENDLY IF THERE IS ANY DOUBT ABOUT HER FITNESS.

This damn pandemic has taken a lot from us. It would be absolutely heartbreaking to see Sinclair lose a chance at playing in a fourth Olympics. She deserves it and, without a chance to see her play since she became the all-time leading scorer, Canadian fans understandably are looking forward to at least see her get the attention she deserves on the world’s biggest stage for a female athlete (I would argue the Olympics are still a bigger deal than the World Cup for women, but, at a minimum, it’s the one your favourite Wine Aunt is paying attention to).

Sinclair is also just four caps away from hitting 300. She’ll hit that in the final group game at the Olympics if everything goes to plan.

We have celebrated Sinclair a lot over the last year, but I can’t help but think that we still should celebrate her more. That feeling that we still should be doing more was overwhelming as I watched her in pain on the pitch. It brought home the undeniable truth that we only have so much time left to appreciate her as an active athlete, so let’s make sure we do.

Finally, I have a concrete idea to do just that: We should make her the flag-bearer in Tokyo. She’s had the honour of doing it at the Closing Ceremony in London, but as an Olympic freak I can tell you that the Opening Ceremony bearer is the more prestigious honour.

She’s one of this country’s greatest Olympians. This is her final Olympics (I mean, probably anyway). She deserves to lead out the Canadian team.