Paul Balm goes back to school…….

Ice hockey ought to be taught as part of the curriculum in every school. it certainly helped me through my school years and taught me more than I otherwise would have learned.

English – If you go to a hockey match you’re not likely to hear someone shout “Oi ref! Thou is a tosspot! Ye makest water like a sink apace” or any other Shakespearean insult, but what you are going to get is an extended vocabulary of the earthier end of the English language, most examples of which I can’t repeat here!

Modern Languages –When I was at school you did either French or German. I got stuck with French! What I didn’t realise was that the continual use of names like Gilles L’Esperance, Jim Gauthier & Yves Beaudoin would help my pronunciation. It didn’t help for the likes of Jarkko Kortesoja or Sergei Gavrilenko but it was a sight better than the controlled spitting that is German!

RE – I always felt a bit sorry for our RE teacher because he always did his best but we just weren’t interested! Of course it didn’t help that he scratched his head all the time and had a tendency to spit all over the first three rows! At that age my church was on Lower Parliament Street and I worshipped on Saturday nights. Come to think of it, not much has changed!

PE –My school reports show that I wasn’t very good at PE. All I ever got was “Tries hard with little result”. What it doesn’t show is that after I started watching hockey i was much better at football and any other sport where a strong shoulder check could be used. We never got to play field hockey so I never got a chance to practice my slapshot!

Physics – I never understood mechanics, i thought about it in hockey terms. Two objects travel towards each other  at 20 miles an hour at an angle of 45 degrees to each other. What will the total speed of collision be and what angle will the objects move after the collision? Huh? Change those objects for Kevin Bergin & Ryan Finnerty and the answer is easy. the total speed of collision will be too much for Ryan and his movement afterwards will be in a downward direction. Given today’s referees, Kevin’s movements afterwards will be towards the penalty box!

Geography –Without a shadow of a doubt my knowledge of this country is broader because of ice hockey. OK, so I’ve never needed to know that Whitley Bay is near Newcastle, Billingham is in Teeside is in Cleveland, Hull is in Humberside is in Yorkshire is in East Riding or that Altrincham is a suburb of Manchester, but i might do one day! What is it the scouts say, be prepared!

History –When I was at school history was little more than a series of events and dates that you had to remember and prattle on about in exams. It’s strange then that ice hockey could offer any help in this dry & drab subject, but it does, at least for recent history. The events of recent history can be tied to events that actually had an effect on us. For example the fall of the Berlin Wall, can you remember when it was? If not let me help you, it was the same year that Panthers won the British Championships at Wembley. See, that made it easier didn’t it? What do you mean no!!

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