Dear America: I Am a Nervous Wreck About Tonight’s Hockey Game and None of You Understand

02/24/2010 12:47 PM |

canada vs. russia once again

Because Canada lost to the United States in the final game of the Olympic hockey preliminaries, we (us Canadians, all 30 million) have to play Russia tonight in the quarterfinals. This means that one of the two best teams in the Olympic tournament (on paper) will be going home without a medal.

And because everybody cares about hockey now, I need to get a few things off my chest.

My entire country is freaked. International hockey is the only, only thing we allow ourselves to openly care about; it is the only occasion in which we give in to an expectation that we might be the best.

[Sports as specious metaphor for national psyche begins here:] We are accustomed to losing, to placing way out of the medals and just being happy content that we managed to pull off a personal best. This helps us to understand that life, in the end, is just one long sudden-death overtime that you cannot ever win. Our hopes are private and small: the very idea of victory is something reserved for story books and Sylvester Stallone soccer movies. I’m not trying to paint us as a nation of losers, but rather as a nation that’s come to terms with not winning. We’ve internalized the absurdity of measuring life as a win-loss record, conducting ourselves from day to day outside the victor/vanquished binary, content when life sees fit to offer reasons for contentment, sad when it offers reasons for sadness. Sure, this mindset means fewer “winners,” but it also means a lot fewer losers at the bottom of society.

I contrast this with Americans [broad generalization about national psyches continues here:], who expect to win even the little, tiny sports they’ve never heard of. Americans expect, and want, to win at everything—sports, money, resources, war, politics—and they generally do. But winning all the time gives you a false sense of life, of entitlement. Life (as most Canadians understand it) is a series of tiny overtime losses, to be managed quietly, without much fuss (if you don’t believe me, ask Alice Munro).

Wait, wasn’t I talking about hockey? Oh yeah. So. We’re not used to letting ourselves care about winning it all, so I’m totally fucking racked by anxiety right now. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE LOSE. Two thirds of my entire country (including babies) watched the USA-Canada hockey game on Sunday, so if we lose tonight, it could have a negative effect on an entire generation.

Fuck, I don’t know. They say to be Irish is to know your heart will be broken in the end… Well to be Canadian is to avoid situations in which your heart might get broken. In this, at least tonight, we have failed.

2 Comment

  • USA – Swiss streaming live on NBCOlympics. Is there a Canadian tv feed for tonight?

  • So this article says that Americans feel a sense of entitlement “generally speaking” to win at everything. Perhaps we do and for that I will accept criticism. Yet this article fails to identify the similarity between Canada’s sense of entitlement for hockey and America’s sense of entitlement for everything. Or at least it does not appear to me that the author feels these entitlement’s share any level of comparison.

    I have friends who are Canadian and most of them agree that Hockey is the only thing their country actually cares about. But does this mean we should just let Canada go right to the finals? Should we just let the best teams on paper face off and tell the other unimpressive teams to get a better resume? Surely this is not what the author is suggesting (I personally do not think he is).

    I think the author just like the rest of Canada wants to prove that they do have the best hockey team. And the only way to do that is to play the game. Yes, this means that you can loose, because sometimes you have bad games. It also means you can dominate, and play above and beyond your potential. This is what it means to play sports.

    So stop trying to paint America as the country that is taking away Canada’s only lollipop. If it was any other country that beat you it wouldn’t have received nearly as much hype. And we do understand what it means to care about a sport so much that it hurts to loose. We are a country filled with loyal fans who watch their teams loose year round. Why don’t you go talk to a Raiders fan, Pirates fan, Nets fan, St louis Blues fan, padres fan, Tampa Bay buccaneers fan, Colorado Rockies fan… Any of these fans could tell you how much it pains them to watch their team loose. But its part of the game and we know this going into it. Sometimes we may win and sometimes we may loose.

    Be happy that your team is more likely to win then not and keep your head up. If it doesn’t happen this year it can always happen in another 4. Canada will always have a strong hockey team and you will always be contenders for the gold.