Homeland Hockey Hope

All right.  Let’s be honest here, folks.

Last night’s hockey game vs. the US was pretty sloppy hockey.

If you listened really hard, you could hear a collective groan from 13 million Canadians who tuned in to the game at some point last night, making it the most-watched sporting event in Canadian history.

Let’s be honest about something else.  Luongo needs to start the next game against Germany.  And the game after that.  And the rest of the games that Team Canada plays.

Those are two things I think Canadians can agree on.  Yes, it was a crappy game and, yes, Ryan Miller owned us, stopping 42 of the 45 shots fired at the net.  But you can’t fault the guy on that.  He put on one hell of a show.  And you can bet if it was Brodeur who had stepped up to the plate like that, the statuses on Facebook would have been a whole lot happier post-game.

Now I can’t deny expressing rage over how this game went.  We have a whole lot of potential on that team, and it didn’t exactly come to the forefront last night.  But, once I settled down and did some research, this isn’t the end of  the world (hard to believe, I know).  In 2002, we took the long route, too.  Canada lost to Sweden 5-2, only managed to defeat Germany 3-2 and tied with the Czech Republic.  The lads picked it up after that though, and wound up ending a long Olympic drought by beating the US in the finals.

So we’re not in terrible shape here.

Part of the rage and disappointment, I think, comes from the unproductive weekend Canadians had and the realization that our “Own the Podium” dream isn’t going to happen.  The consecutive build-ups followed by the continual fallings-short are beginning to wear a little thin.  Failing to beat the United States at our game on our turf was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  For the first time, “You let us down!” and “Team Canada, you suck!” were plastered all over Facebook and Twitter.

This seems to show us what “Own the Podium” really means for Canadians.  It has nothing to do with skeleton, or alpine skiing, or snowboard cross, or any of the other sports.  It’s harsh, it’s cruel, and it’s awfully disturbing.  But, if we lose hockey, there’s nothing left.

So if you think the pressure on the other athletes is bad, imagine being a hockey player right now.

No one is worried about the women.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, either.  Sure, they’re receiving less coverage, but they’re also owning the competition.  If they don’t win gold, it will be a huge upset.  So far, they’re sailing, and those of us who pay attention are awfully proud (we know the Olympic committee will be pleased when they hold up those shiny golds).  The real question is in the men’s competition.  Unlike the women, they have their hands full.

Stop and think for a minute about how seriously we’re taking this hockey business.  Even the number of times I’ve used the word “we” in this post referring to us as part of the hockey team is a little odd.  A friend of mine is taking a course this semester called “The History of Sport.”  Her class is reading an article right now about the extent to which we identify ourselves with the athletes in these games.  Psychologically, we feel their losses and their triumphs.  In our minds, we are right there with them.

That explains why all of us become experts in winter sports for three weeks every four years.

Our obsession with hockey isn’t that unusual.  Just ask the Austrians about skiing.  But we need to be careful here.  Being disappointed and being crushed as a nation are two different things.  I’ve heard Canada’s loss to the Swiss in 2006 described as “A National Shame.”  Do we really want to be the type of fans who cheer when we win and boo our men when we’re down?  And, yes, I use the pronoun “we.”  We identify so much with hockey that there’s no way to not be caught up in the successes and failures of our national team.

Let’s just avoid getting so caught up in this that we forget Canada’s other national trademark – sportsmanship.

Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 9:14 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Just got out of the shower, feeling of dirtiness is not coming off because I FEEL like you are making sense … did Jesus just walk by my window?

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