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Loose Change: The Code

Back in high school, I was that kid who always sat near the back, constantly staring out into the courtyard, lost in the bliss of the afternoon sunshine.

A lot of that bliss, I’m sure, emanated from the fact our cheerleaders, for some reason, always seemed to practise around 2 p.m., although I suppose a small part of it was simply due to my innate inability to grasp whatever strange concepts were being presented to me in whatever strange class I happened to be “attending” at the time.

I was never a math whiz. I tended to be drawn more to subjects with less-rigid final answers, like gym or lunch. The sciences – to my disdain - are founded on the basic principle of one person accepting the abstract theory of another (likely deceased) person. I figure there were some things I just never got, or was meant to get, like Fig Newton’s Laws of Edible Projectiles Falling From Trees or something to that effect.

Not surprisingly, that same trend continues today. Tax laws baffle me; I’m terrible with algorithms (I get Salsa dancing though); and I have never been able to figure out why apples can be sold individually but grapes can’t.

And then there’s The Code.

The Code has to be the least explainable thing to me, next to how Whoopi Goldberg manages to get dinner dates.

The Code, is that long, unwritten, semi-legal-but-non-binding dictum that seems to exist in every sport known to man. Players, managers, coaches – everyone involved in sport – are expected to understand and follow the mysterious and seemingly endless list of rules yet you will never actually find a tangible list anywhere to learn from. It’s like trying to understand a car accident by licking a spark plug.

Sports people talk about The Code like 10-year-old kids talk about the house down the street that’s apparently haunted. They’d rather be safe and not test The Code than sorry for crossing it. Heaven forbid if anyone dares to defy The Code.

In hockey there is, of course, its own code or rather, codes.

As a coach, don’t publicly ridicule a player.
As a player, don’t publicly ridicule a coach.
Tough guys only fight tough guys.
Don’t hit a guy from behind.
Red wine ONLY with seafood (except grouper).
Blah blah blah. The list goes on.

Recently we’ve seen examples of hockey’s citizens circumventing The Code. Alexei Kovalev criticizes his coach. Markus Naslund criticizes his coach. Alain Vigneault criticizes his player. Again, the list goes on.

The truth is The Code is broken all the time. And guess what? Nothing happened. The sky didn’t fall. The sun rose the next day. Jesus didn’t appear.

But what you need to realize – what we all need to realize – is that The Code is essentially a thinly-veiled attempt at cerebral segregation. It’s tantamount to special handshakes in secret clubs. 

That’s why, invariably, an athlete’s sole response – basically their only defense to explain the oddities that occasionally occur in the game – to us, the great unwashed is the same tired: “If you had played the game you would understand. It’s the unwritten Code.”

Well Socrates, you did play the game and you still play the game and you still continue to violate The Code more than a rapper violates parole. The cops and the judges are the only ones breaking the laws here.

That seems a simple and logical enough concept for me to understand, unless of course it too is written in some sort of clandestine code and is also way beyond my limited analytical abilities.

In that case, when’s lunch?

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on thehockeynews.com.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at charlieteljeur@hotmail.com.

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