All entries for February 2007

February 02, 2007

The Warwick Boar, "ice" hockey, and true love

I haven’t put something up here for a while and I’m not going to add an academic posting. No, I’ve decided to go with something very close to my heart, inspired by something I read on the bus trip on to campus around noon.

At the back of the bus, where I took my seat after climbing aboard the pink rocket, happened to have a copy of the last issue of the Boar strewn on the bench. I quickly glanced at the front, then turned it to the back and the sports section. I opened it up and shockingly saw an article about the Coventry Blaze, the local ‘ice’ hockey team (hereafter I shall drop the ‘ice’ for reasons to be explained below). What’s this? Hockey taking up a complete page in the student newspaper? And, it has nothing do with a student team? I just KNEW I had to read on.

The story itself is about two curious guys to decide to take a pass on the more popular sporting options, like football and rugby, and go watch a live hockey game. It wasn’t long, however, before I came across some rather shocking statements: “one of America’s favourite past times”. America’s? What’s this? Inhale. Exhale. It’s surely just a passing thing… But as I read on I soon found references to things like “American Pie” and the ever-ubiquitous chanting at international sporting events of “U-S-A”. By this point I was pretty livid. No. Shocked. Stunned. Wounded even. And, with a nod to my Greco-Roman historiographical forebears, I think it’s time for a digression.

Love is a sticky thing. Whenever you truly love something, or rather, whenever I truly love something, my better judgement tends to be clouded, particularly when I perceive something about it/them as overtly negative; and unjustifiably so. This was such a case. Plus, not only did it seem that one of my truly great loves was on the verge of being attacked (which it wasn’t), so was another: the game of hockey, and my country (Canada – that country tucked in between Alaska and the 49th parallel). How could a journalist – and this comes the day after watching “Good Night and Good Luck” again – make such blatant errors of fact? America’s pasttime? A sport that has no major network coverage in the US and struggles to get fans in many of the southwestern cites that have professional teams should hardly be classified as one of America’s pasttimes, no?

Now, okay okay. Level heads must prevail. As they explicitly stated, they know nothing about the game beyond a failed attempt to play NHL ‘98 – ironically I was thinking just this morning about how one of my fondest memories from my undergraduate years was playing NHL hockey with two friends in my room, but that’s somethinge else…sorta… That’s fair. And, they know nothing about Canada, which is also fair. What’s more, I shouldn’t fault them because my quite passionate love, both for hockey and my countury, had temporarily obscured my ability to reason. First of all, outside of Canada (and some Eastern Europeans, some Scandanavians, and some nothern state Americans) really cares about hockey? The only country to my knowledge that loves the game so is Canada; so much in fact that it was made a joint national sport with lacrosse several years back (hence, for us, it is only hockey, and not ‘ice’ hockey. What is called hockey here, is for us, ‘field’ hockey). I have no illusions about hockey’s lack of popularity outside of the borders of Canada. I’m puzzled, but not entirely surprised. Nor do I, like many of my countrymen, have deluded ideas about how popular the sport is in the US, and how it means so much for us to be the best at the sport, when they, like most others, care little. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with individuality. Second of all, outside of Canada, who really knows about Canada? Not many. That’s no one’s fault but our (our being Canadian) own for doing such a fine job of maintaining what was a good international reputation. All in all, I cannot, nor should I, blame these two guys for doing a wonderful thing for me.

Yes, despite my initial desire to “Kill, Kill, Kill!!!”, I read on and found that these two guys actually enjoyed their experience. What’s more, they could feel the seeds of a genuine interest in the sport gestating deep within their souls…or something to that effect. Never mind then the errors at the beginning of the article, and the seeming hostility at the start of this one for that matter. They’ve shown that there is hope – for this love is much like I think the love of a child might be like. There are “other” people out there who have shown an interest in something that means so much to me. I’m no longer alone in the sporting universe. And so, my hat’s off to you, with a big thanks. Yes, hope spring’s eternal (as my dad would say)!

February 2007

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