Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thank goodness they won

While the jingoistic side of me wished Team USA had won the hockey match for the gold medal today, it's better in the long run that Canada won.

It's a matter of perspective. See, there is no medal in any sport that means as much to the American zeitgeist as this one did to Canada. Ice hockey is Canada's only notable athletic endeavour and more than any singular event, an ice hockey tournament is the only measure of Canada's athletic greatness. On the other hand, basketball tournaments are pretty much a joke for the US in the modern era, we get silvers in ice hockey even though the vast majority of Americans live in areas where it isn't a realistic sport, and arguably most of our better athletes go into American football. Heck, in the second-tier sport of soccer, we made the quarter-finals of the last World Cup. Admittedly, baseball isn't America's strong suit at the moment.

On the other hand is Canada, a regular doormat in international tournaments (didn't qualify for the soccer World Cup, 2008 Beijing Olympics in basketball, etc.). The "Canadian" Football League survives on NFL sufferance and funding. Canada doesn't have the chops to handle more than a single major league franchise in pro baseball or basketball. This is truly all they have. Add in the fact that in a nation as culturally cleavaged as Canada, where one-fifth of the people live in a Quebecois culture which is more distinct than anything else in North America, and hockey is the only national touchstone the nation has. This wasn't an athletic was amusingly close to a vindication of the Canadian experiment.

America wanted this gold medal.
Canada desperately, cryingly needed it. Good for them.

That said, I'm still more pissed about the Celtics losing at home to the New Jersey Nets.

PS: Anybody who watched the closing ceremony knows what I mean. A somewhat limp presentation from Sochi, Russia was followed by a tedious 45 minutes about what it means to Canadian, and Canadian iconography. If there's a culture in the world that cries out for legitimacy more than English-Canadian culture, I don't know it. I'd really have to rate this as the worst closing ceremonies I've ever seen.

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