21 February 2014

Olympic Hockey

Steve ready to cheer Canada in the Olympics
I don't give a rip about hockey. Oops, did I say that out loud? I might have just jeopardised my chances of ever getting Canadian citizenship. Oh, wait! Wait! Before you send me hate mail, delete the link to my blog, unfriend me on Facebook and refuse to ever speak to me again, hear me out.

It's true, I'm afraid - I don't care about hockey, and I really know nothing about it. But one thing I do know, and that's that Canadians care passionately about this game. I found out just how passionately four years ago, this very Sunday, during the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010. The Man and I wanted to go for lunch, and we made the mistake of picking the local pub to get our eats. We got into the pub, and it was crowded - really crowded. Maple leaf motifs everywhere. And there was such a sense of excitement the air was practically crackling with it. We did get a seat, and then we realised that on the big TV screens there were guys on skates, and a big arena - that, in fact, they were winding up for the gold medal game, the final day, the BIG ONE - men's hockey, Canada vs. the USA (which tells you right there where our heads were at; we didn't even know it was on that day). I tell you, it was just a little scary. We were there early enough to be able to get our food and get out of there before the game started - slink out, rather. It would have been more than my life would have been worth to say out loud what I just said up top there; the crowd might have just torn me to pieces and fed me to the nearest coyotes. Besides, we knew our seats would get snapped up the minute we left. So we went home, and the Man and the offspring watched the game on TV - I went and had a nap, I'm afraid. But when I got up from my nap, I found out that Canada had, indeed, got the gold; at overtime, in a very dramatic play, no less.

And you know what? I was thrilled! I was so very, very excited. Not because the game means anything to me, but because the whole country erupted in celebration. All around me, people were ecstatic. The atmosphere of triumph, of victory, was fantastic. And it was EVERYWHERE. To have won the gold medal in Canada's sport on Canadian home soil - there was nothing like it. Canada was one big party zone that day. It was wonderful.

The 2010 Olympic Flame coming through our little town
I might not care about the game, but I care about the people who care about the game - so I guess, in a sense, I do care about hockey, after all. I care because others care. I care because I live in Canada, and Canada cares about hockey. I'm actually quite nervous about the game that is being played as I write this, Canada vs. the US in the semi-finals. I'm not watching it, because, other than the fact that I really don't know what's going on on the ice, I find the tension hard to handle. There are too many people to whom this matters so very much. As for the men's gold medal game on Sunday, I'll be sure to stay out of the pub. I might just stay off the internet, too, until it's over - just tell me who won afterwards, will you? If it's gold for Canada, I'll be very happy.

Canada is terribly passionate about hockey - my boys got to watch yesterday's women's gold medal game in school, one in math class, the other in the school theatre on the big screen while they were supposed to have gym class. I ask you, what other country would put their high school classes on hold so they could watch a sports game? Canucks have their priorities.

Life, the Universe, and Olympic Hockey. I guess I'm a hockey fan by proxy.

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