Ken Dryden Is A Player

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Ken Dryden was a (ice) hockey player.  He was very, very good at being at goalie.  He was very good at writing books (at least one anyway, “The Game”).  He also became a lawyer and eventually a Member of Canadian Parliament.  “The Game” is a really good book and is considered one of the best books on sport of all time.  It finishes with this poem.  I like it a lot.

I am a player

I love to play

I want to win

It matters to me if I win or lose

It matters to me how I play the game

I want to win without injustice or bad luck or regret

I want to own every pleasure and disappointment

I want to get lost in play

I want time not to matter

I want to do something more important than me

I cannot win alone

I need my teammates and my opponents to make me better

I trust, because I have to trust

I forgive, because I need to be forgiven

I play a game, not only a game

I try because that matters to me

I try because it’s more fun that way

I don’t quit because it doesn’t feel good when I do

I play with other, but I play against me

I learn when I play

I play when I learn

I practice because I like to be good

I try what I’ve never tried before

I fail, to fail smarter

I want to be better than I was yesterday

I dream

I imagine

I feel hard and deep

I hope, because there’s always a way.

Ken Dryden, July 21, 2003


  1. I liked “The Player” a lot. One of the distinctive things I found about the book was how much we take for granted how a sport has changed since it was first imagined by it’s initial players/coaches/officials.

    In the case of ice hockey- initially there was no tackling or hits on players, just accidental collisions as players tried to intercept the puck. Now days, critics bemoan the “softening” of the game whenever the notion of limiting violent intentional hits often to the head. An aspect of game that didn’t exist when originally conceived.

    I think this is an interesting lens to consider when discussing current rules and potential rule changes.

    I wonder what the founding fathers of volleyball would think if they saw a modern game?


    1. I think it is a tendency in many fields to forget the past and how things were and why they became as they are now, especially when people talk about the ‘good old days’. When people talk about how the AFL has become sanitised, I always wonder if they remember how players used to go around punching each because they could get away with it.
      To answer about volleyball, I have no idea. But as a hint perhaps we could remember that volleyball was invented as a sport for middle aged businessmen for whom basketball was too strenuous. Extrapolating from that, I think they would not recognise modern volleyball in any way shape or form.


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