TERRY COLUMN: Learning a new language

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Penalty corners. 3-meter lines. Goes. Offloads.

I had no idea what any of it meant.

Covering sports is often like learning a new language.

For the most part, the job is exactly as fun as it sounds. I get paid to watch sports.

Thereís a more technical version of the job description, which includes phone calls and story plans, high-stress environments and deadlines. But, for the most part, itís getting paid to watch sports, then dissecting what I watched and explaining it to people who didnít watch.

As a guy who grew up watching and playing sports, most of that comes as second nature.

I know football and baseball lingo. Iíve played enough basketball to know what Iím writing about when I have to turn around a story from the state championships in 30 minutes.

But, those arenít all of the experiences.

As with most people, I donít know every single sport and its rules and regulations.

Yet, unlike most people, when those sports happen, sometimes Iím told to cover them to keep my employment. When that happens, I need to learn quickly what exactly is going on, so that, at minimum, I can relay a sense of what is happening to the readership.

My first foray into learning a new sport on the fly happened in college, when I was assigned to cover field hockey.

It looked like soccer, had hockey in the name and nothing else looked familiar. Luckily, there was a ball and a net and goals were scored one point at a time, leaving me with at least the idea of how to win.

The feeling came to me again when I moved to Montana and had to cover my first rodeo. Mind you, when I say first rodeo, I had never seen a rodeo before and only had a basic idea of what even happened at a rodeo. I knew horses were involved and people rode or tried to ride them in different events.

Eventually, with a lot of questions and plenty of proofreading, I figured it out. I understand field hockey lingo for the most part and can cover a rodeo without misnaming animals.

Learning the intricacies to each sport, those new languages, has been fun and made the sports watching experience that much more enjoyable.

I bring all this up because The Event at Rebecca Farm, for many people, happens to bring the same experience. Equestrian, like many of its Olympic counterparts, isnít all that well known by the general public and trying to figure out whatís going on can be daunting.

But, itís worth it for you to check it out anyway.

If youíre there and youíre wondering whatís going on, ask questions. Read here if you want an explanation of what you saw from people who were in the action.

Youíll find out, and when you do, youíll start to understand why someone turned the thing into a sport and why so many people travel all the way to Northwest Montana to watch the action.

Or at least, youíll have a fun day in the sun. Thatís worth it, too.

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