Saturday, January 02, 2016
It's just a game, people
There's a wave of sadness that's sweeping across Canada this afternoon. Our national junior men's team was eliminated by Finland at the World Junior Hockey Championship following a 6-5 loss in the quarter-final game.
It's the first time since 1998 that Canada has failed to make the semi-finals, and by virtue of the outcry on social media from coast to coast to coast, you'd think a national depression is about to set in.
So, yes, it's upsetting that we didn't win. Hockey may not be our national sport - that would be lacrosse - but it is seemingly our birthright, the one game that seamlessly ties us all together. It's a cultural touchstone, a rite of urban, suburban and rural passage, and a common language that reinforces our Canadian identity in ways so fundamental that mere words can't even come close to explaining it.
But at the same time - and this is what's probably going to get me egged in the grocery store parking lot this week - it's just a game. And when it's over, there always has to be a loser to go along with the winner. We don't always bring home the big prize - indeed there's no law, written or unwritten, that dictates that the championship is ours to begin with - and whether we do or don't shouldn't ultimately devalue the joy we take from the experience. Exhibit A for not needing to win: The Toronto Maple Leafs. Thank you.
So over the next few days, as the teen-something players begin their sad journeys home, consider that hockey remains a core foundation of Canadian values, and a single loss or victory won't change that. Also consider that we weren't driven from our homeland by religious zealots, didn't cross an angry sea in a leaky boat, weren't forced to line up for food hampers in the biting cold, woke up healthy, well-fed and literate enough to read, understand and appreciate this blog entry.
Count your lucky stars that our nation's junior team losing a hockey game is the worst thing that happened in your life today.