More Hockey

I’ve just come from a board meeting of the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust. The Trust has a very diverse board of directors: former politicians, businesspeople, artists, photographers, farmers, lawyers, accountants. Without exception (leaving out the fact that I’m an exception) they were all excited about Canada’s dual gold-medal performances in hockey at the Olympics. While I still can’t fathom why, nor muster anything but a veneer of interest in such discussions, I must say I was amazed at how the discussion cut across class, income, home town and so on.

Maybe that’s the key: hockey is stupid, but at least it’s something that we all have in common. Even me.


Charlie's picture
Charlie on February 28, 2002 - 05:14 Permalink

Looking at the ratings and figuring for the large groups of people who watched at bars, and the huge crowd who watched together at GM Place in BC, roughly 1 in 3 Canadians watched the men’s gold medal hockey game.

After the game was over I was driving in my car listening to Rex Murphy on CBC take calls on reactions to the game. A woman called in and in a quick excited voice she told Rex that she was 70 years old and had never watched a hockey game before that day but she was hooked for life now. She said she couldn’t believe how exciting it was and that she just loved it and couldn’t be more proud to be a Canadian.

Perhaps the point is not that “my neighbours succeed at sliding a piece of rubber around a piece of ice better than people across an invisible border”, perhaps the point is that our smaller population in Canada was able to put together two teams who were able to compete against the big world and win after they trashed us for 4 years and 2 weeks.

You say that your company is proud to be small and that you don’t like “giant soul-sucking corporations” and therefore one would assume that you are quite proud to produce better product than the big corporations. To you it must be more than, “I can put together a few graphics and links better than people across an invisible border” ?

I would say that after 4 years of looking down on the style of hockey most of us grew up with, “Stupid Hockey” according to USA Coach Herb Brooks, we are proud to have reclaimed the title of the world’s best. Proud of our work you might say. Canadian hockey prefers Steak (Dump and Chase) to Sizzle (Herb’s Hybrid Plan) as well!

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on February 28, 2002 - 14:44 Permalink

(Day before yesterday…) While waiting for an appointment and mustering an exchange of small-talk with an acquaintance I asked what he thought of The Game. He said he hadn’t watched it and a lady (heavy English accent) confessed to same. I said, “gee, I’ve found ~both~ of you”. The lady carried the conversation for a few minutes and crescendoed by saying, “I don’t get it, it’s just a bunch of guys chasing a piece of rubber and falling down!”. I said, “EXACTLY!”. She continued, “It’s no different than Cricket, that’s just a bunch of guys with wooden sticks chasing a ball” and I added, “What’s Cricket?”.

Funny how she understood me and I understood her but we were on very different ground. Hockey did that!

Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on February 28, 2002 - 16:40 Permalink

The thing is, Peter, is that it’s not an invisible border. In our minds it’s a very real and profound border. When I was growing up, the border that meant most to me was the one that separated Parkdale (where I lived) with Sherwood. The kids in Sherwood WERE the enemy. Unless, of course, we were forced to band together to protect our communities or our superiority from the evil that was the townies. We all take invisible borders and give them meaning. For most Canadians, hockey is the commonality that joins us all. At my core, I’m still a Parkdalian. If Parkdale’s (or a member of its community)not involved in the race, fight, etc., I’m a Charlottonian. Then an Islander, Maritimer, Canadian, North American. Watching the Scott Tournament of Hearts, I cheer for PEI. When the Canadian team goes to the world championships, I’ll cheer for the Canadian team (even though I was cheering against them during the Scott). We need to be part of a community, and, depending on the circumstances, that community can grow to include the whole country, or shrink to just the two houses on your side of the block… sorry for the rambling.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on February 28, 2002 - 16:41 Permalink

I guess I consider myself a North American.

steve rocker's picture
steve rocker on February 28, 2002 - 19:51 Permalink

I’m fascinated by this debate about pride in our hockey team. To me “pride” as such is not the central issue. I did watch the game and enjoyed it. However, I did find it puzzling after the game to see shirtless drunks driving half-tonnes up and down eighth avenue in saskatoon, waving Canadian flags tied to hockey sticks and expressing “national pride”. I find that sort of mob boosterism puzzling and disconcerting.

But hockey is interesting. And I have always been confused, peter, how someone like you, who has always been keenly interested and aware of the way that media and marketing and commerce and ideology intersect, find professional sport beneath contemplation. I like hockey because, like all sports, it’s a drama, with characters and stories and highs and lows; a drama that binds Canadians in the same way that maybe “the Beachcombers” did. I think hockey is kind of stupid, but no more stupid than the film industry or popular music or television drama. It’s a guilty pleasure, a fun distraction and, at times, it’s inspiring and interesting.

This will be a low blow, but it seems rather hypocritical for someone who for several years taped “All My Children” for later viewing on a daily basis to be critical of Canada’s hockey frenzy. I imagine Pete that for you watching hockey is like someone who has never watched “All My Children” watching it for the first time. It would seem tedious and absolutely ridiculous. But, after two or three times perhaps, absolutely addictive. Different people have different cultural vices.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 28, 2002 - 20:05 Permalink

That is a low blow…