Mar 3, 2010
Do real Canadians play hockey - or go curling?
It seems to me that hockey doesn't fit the Canadian character. I don't mean the backyard, homegrown, friendly pond hockey of the game's origins. I mean hockey as it has become today - professionalized to the point that even small fry hockey players are required to pay exorbitant participation fees and travel hundreds of kilometres in competition, just to be part of a local team.
We Canadians are known worldwide as polite, deferential, socially caring and inclusive people. (That's the positive side - the negative side is that we're also reserved to the point of creating false impressions, as well as being passive and having an inferiority complex. But that's another post and I digress...) This description of the Canadian identity is a stereotype, granted, and it doesn't necessarily apply to every Canadian on an individual basis. But it's easy to see the truth in it, when we look at our culture as a whole.
What sport better fits us, then? Hockey or curling? Let's see how each jives with the four aspects of our national character, mentioned above. (Cue Jeopardy music here.)
1. Polite - curling is not violent or loud; hockey is both - and involves way too much Stompin' Tom music, in my opinion...but I was regaled with it as a child in my grandfather's truck, so perhaps I'm overreacting ;-)
2. Deferential - curling includes an orderly taking of turns, one at a time, with no clobbering of opponents; hockey involves outright competition to even have a go at the puck, let alone a shot at the goal, with checking and fights an accepted part of the game for most players
3. Socially caring - curling does not demand high registration fees, require much special equipment or demand extensive travel , so most can afford to play; hockey is so expensive for the players and travel so time-consuming for the parents that it is becoming an exclusive hobby as well as a stress-filled near-career for children
4. Inclusive - curling is a sport that people can play from childhood into middle and even old age, such that grandparents, parents and children could conceivably play successfully on the same team; hockey is very difficult to play safely as age advances, and age groups must be divided up to make it fair
It seems to me that curling wins this competition, and without anyone even having to go to the penalty box.
Canada did indeed take gold in both men's and women's hockey. But I think an equally laudable accomplishment is our teams' successes in curling. Our women brought home silver, while the (undefeated) men got gold. Now, there is something we can be proud of (although modestly, of course) as "real" Canadians.