Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hockey Thoughts

"The Men's Hockey Gold Medal is the most important medal for Canadians"

I've heard that one a few times the last few weeks. For this Canadian, the most important Olympic Hockey medal is the Women's Hockey medal.

I just can't get that worked up about millionaire players, most of whom don't even play or live in Canada, that have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. There's no sacrifice involved for these NHL players that constitute our team.

Olympic Men's Hockey is a flawed premise for me now. I place much more importance on the World Juniors tournament, as it is more reflective of national effort. Then it is our kids, from our system playing. The sacrifice and effort the juniors make is much more palpable. It is more meaningful too. Not all the juniors will go on to be NHL stars, but the World Junior tournament will always be a highlight. A pinnacle, a peak, an achievement that transcends their entire career. For NHL players, its debatable as to what's more important. The biggest salary from any team willing to play, the Stanley Cup or an Olympic Gold? Put it this way, will these NHL players risk a career ending injury to win the Gold Medal? I doubt it.

With the Juniors, we know those kids are playing "our game" "our way". I'm not so certain about the NHL representing our game anymore. It's dominated by American owners and American leadership trying to sell this game to disinterested Americans. The NHL is now as "Canadian" as Hollywood. Both are staffed with ex-pats playing to foreign audiences.

I still cheer, but I don't really care either as the meaning of the game has been lost to me. I'm not quite sure what it is that's being fought for anymore.

In any event, it is the least important medal of the games for me. I won't lose sleep if me miss the podium again.


Ken Breadner said...

Well put. The Europeans put a lot more emphasis on Olympic gold than we do--and I'd wager most of the emphasis we put on it is only because of theirs.
Bearing in mind, too, that most of the Europeans and a surprising number of Russians are Canadian-trained and make their livelihoods here, chances are good any medal won by anyone is at least partly ours anyway.

Catelli said...

True enough. The quasi-national issue is found in the other sports as well.

It doesn't excuse it, just makes this whole national pride thing a little weirder.

Ken Breadner said...

I'm put in mind of one of the questions you get in the test that determines your place on the Political Compass. You're asked to determine whether you agree or disagree, and how strongly, with this statement: "No one chooses his or her country of birth, so it's foolish to be proud of it."