I’m not much of a fan of watching sports — live or on TV. That said, I will not turn off the TV if it’s tuned into a channel that’s currently broadcasting a hockey or tennis game.
The Olympics–both Winter and Summer–are probably the sole exception, because they’re like getting a huge selection of world championships condensed into two-and-a-half-week timeframe. An all-you-can-see cornucopia of sports to pick and choose from.
It’s athletic competition on an epic and international scale, with more than a few surprise victories and upsets, plus unexpected stories of generosity that exemplify “true sportsmanship.”
Canadian viewership is a lock for ice hockey during the Winter Olympics. Because for us, ice hockey is not just a national pasttime. It’s an everyday-of-the-year national obsession. Football, baseball, soccer, and curling pale by comparison. Hockey is as Canadian as peameal bacon, poutine, maple syrup, basketball, insulin, Superman, Trivial Pursuit, Tim Horton’s, the telephone, and the zipper.
Politics may divide Canadians, but (ice) hockey is a unifying point of pride (even though we root for different NHL teams) — around the TV at home or at the bar or in a restaurant. It seems like ice hockey season’s tickets are always sold out (regardless of the team), no matter what the going prices are and/or how much we’re willing to shell out for them, and we’re talking figures in the order of several thousands of Canadian loonies.
Terms like ‘hattricks’, ‘icing’, ‘OT’, ‘power play’, and ‘short-handed goals’ figure frequently into our vocabulary. When we’re not watching fast-paced dramas on the ice, we’re talking about hockey on a play-by-play basis in ad hoc post-game analyses and critical commentary, or competing in hockey pools for prizes and/or bragging rights. Some of us strap on skates to engage in weekend friendlies on indoor rinks or backyard games. We’re even wearing licensed apparel (usually jerseys) in the office on casual Fridays as well as in our off time.
The NHL regular season/playoffs/All-Star Games, Hockey Junior World Cups, Ice Hockey World Championships, and Olympics matchups make our collective pulse quicken. and whip our passion for hockey to a fever pitch.
If there is just one sport that Canadians expect our athletes to win gold at the Olympics, it’s hockey. Do I wish for “Teams Canada” to bring home more shiny hardware from Sochi? It would certainly be nice. Dazzle us with your playmaking abilities, style, and sportsmanship. No pressure.
It always seems like the ladies do not have the same pressure/expectations on them (as the men do) to bring home the gold — but to their credit, the former have delivered for the past 3 consecutive Olympics — which really is the icing on the cake.
To both the Canadian women’s and men’s Olympic ice hockey teams: here’s to great plays on the ice, and good luck with the puck. May the best teams win.