Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Piling on the Habitants and British Columbioids

Today's posting by the Acid Queen coupled with what I heard last night on the audio stream of the US/USSR errrrr Russia WJC game and read online has my blood up today.

One of the reasons I started a hockey blog was because even though I too have strong political views (none of which involve "Softwood Lumber Duties," which is apparently not a political issue at all, but rather a specific type of erectile dysfunction experienced as part of the duty of being a Canadian citizen), there was just too much venom in the world of politics for the endevour to be any fun. The culture of hockey is a lot like that of rugby. We can kick the crap out of each other (literally or figuratively) for three periods and then turn around and throw back a pint together as best buddies immediately afterward. This compelling interpersonal dynamic doesn't exist in the realm of politics.

And that's what's got me steamed today. Have you noticed how long the comment posts get when politics worms its way into the discussion? According to the apologists, the reason the BC fans were giving it to the Team USA boys was because of George Bush and his policies. On numerous occasions in '03 Canadian fans booed the US national anthem. Again, it was attributed to President Bush's policies.

I can understand booing as part of a rivalry. If I'm watching a US/Canada game, I'd cheer for my homeboys and boo and holler loudly if one of my guys were to take a flagrant elbow to the mellon. Who boos Evgeni Malkin just to make a statement about their outrage over Vladimir Putin's efforts to kill real democractic reform in Russia? Who shows up to a hockey rink with the intention mobilizing the crowd to make a political statement?

Hockey players traditionally stand up for each other-especially US and Canadian boys. Americans at the United Center in November cheered Oh Canada with great vigor-more than Thrashers fans displayed in September for our own national anthem. Now maybe that was because it was played on a viola by a little band geek and not sung by a fat guy in a booming baritone, but the point remains.

The fact is, these Montreal and BC fans acted in a cowardly display of pack, or better yet, sheep-like behavior, and I don't think it's just about world politics-it's also about hockey politics. If you asked Dr. Phil, he'd probably say these Canadians were acting out through a burst of repressed anxiety rooted in concerns over an uncertain future. These sheep see the emergence of Team USA and the growth of hockey in the USA (Texas now has the most active hockey players at all levels in the USA) as a threat to Canadian hockey hegemony (how's that for a geo-political buzz word, eh?).

The natural reaction of the sheep herd is to huddle butt-to-butt, bleat really loudly and hope to fend off the aggressor. Hey sheep of the great white north, the wolf is at the door, and his name is not George Bush. His name is USA Hockey and he's about to blow your house down and eat your Tim Horton's lunch donuts. Just not at this year's WJC.

3 comments:

Jeff J said...

Don't you think it's a little presumptuous to tell your Canadian readers what they are thinking when they behave this way?

"According to the apologists, the reason the BC fans were giving it to the Team USA boys was because of George Bush and his policies."

That's a fact, and I'm not apologizing for anything. Well, actually I apologize for Erik Johnson and Peter Mueller having to endure the boos. Those two are under 18. The other 20 players and the entire coaching staff are all old enough to join the marines, and should be mature enough to tolerate boos.

"Who shows up to a hockey rink with the intention mobilizing the crowd to make a political statement?"

Ever heard of the Richard Riot?

Politics and sport are intertwined (perhaps more so here than there in the US), and it's not just hockey:
http://espn.go.com/nba/columns/stein_marc/1527038.html

Do you think the Miracle on Ice (or the 72 Series) would have achieved such legendary status if the opponent had been Sweden rather than the USSR? Sure, it was mostly about overcoming a superpower, but it was also about Democracy vs. Communism. That is undeniable.

"The fact is, these Montreal and BC fans acted in a cowardly display of pack, or better yet, sheep-like behavior..."

No, if those fans demurred to the US in fear of economic repercussions despite their personal and political beliefs, they would have acted in a cowardly display of pack.


"Hey sheep of the great white north, the wolf is at the door, and his name is not George Bush. His name is USA Hockey ..."

Yes, over the long term, the US is one of two credible threats to eventually bump Canada from the #1 spot (the now-capitalist Russia is the other, and still greater, threat). But that's not why we boo. You can choose to deny it, but being a Canadian I think I have a pretty good grasp on our current political climate and why I feel the way I do. The fact that the US team was better at this event than they are at most played a part, but only a part.

Jeff J

CasonBlog said...

When I saw Unibrew, I at first thought Bobby Holik, the Uni-Brow, was dropping in to bash me. What kind of economic repercussions are you talking about? Would President Bush force GM, Chrysler, or Ford to close their plants in Ca? Would he institute sanctions in the form of a beer for oil program?
The St. Cloud State logo thing rankles me too, although it's probably more a form of flattery than a rip off. It's like the University of Iowa wearing Pittsburgh Steelers uniforms-get your own identity! Great blog and thanks for educating me.

Jeff J said...

Great blog yourself.

Nah, Bush can't get GM to halt production up here because the auto makers are closing all the plants on their own and moving production to Mexico, China, the Philippines etc. Some people wonder whether the softwood lumber dispute, livestock bans etc. have anything to do with Canada's stance on Star Wars, Kyoto, etc. Hard to say for sure. Anyway, I've had enough of politics.

Actually, I think the St. Cloud thing is quaint. They must have been using it for a long time, because no one would try to pull something like that off these days with all the lawyers and trademark laws and such.