Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Mar 2, 2010

Steve Rants About Hockey

I (Steve) did not watch a single minute of Canada’s gold-medal-winning hockey game on Sunday. Nor did Julie. We are apparently part of a small minority. News reports today say 26.5 million Canadians watched at least part of the game. Out of a population of just under 34 million.

One reason I didn’t watch is that I no longer like hockey. Oh, I’ll go watch a parishioner play at the local rink a couple times a year. But on tv? Or spend $$ for a ticket? No thanks.

I was a big fan as a child. I still have a Canucks jersey in the closet, and many of my old hockey cards. And a table hockey game.

But I long ago tired of the violence in hockey. Epitomized in this quote: “You might spear a guy in the face, fight a guy, elbow a guy, slash a guy or just make a clean bodycheck... if they don’t know what I’m going to do, I hold the trump card.” So said Chris Pronger (Sports Illustrated, Dec 9, 2009 p.110), one of Canada’s Olympians. One of our representatives, one of our best players at “our game.”

Because nothing says “Canadian” like a sport that tolerates intentional attempts to injure...?

Backyard shinny on a frozen pond? That says ‘Canadian’ to me. And street hockey. But the game has become so organized, so rink-based. And the violence and anger constantly shocks me, with stories of parents fighting while their 15/16 year old kids play. Not so ‘Canadian’ I think.

Others have said (most recently Don Cherry, but you can ignore him) that if Canada had won 20 gold, but missed it in men’s (and women’s?) hockey, the Games would have been a failure. That’s how much the sport is “our game.”

Clearly I am out of step with the culture and country I live in. So tell me: Where should I live instead? For my fellow Canadians, it’s a chance to tell me “where to go,” a verbal high-sticking if you like. For international friends, make the case for why I should be in another part of the world.


  1. Hey Steve, very interesting post! I watched the game, every second of it, agonizing and elated along with the other 26.5 million Canadians. And what struck me was just how involved I was as a person of faith and a Canadian. The Canadian in me felt such immense pride for the accomplishment, but the Christian deep inside was wringing his hands and looking sideways.

    If you remember I was Regent's goalie for three years and loved every second of it. It formed a bond with my team mates that was often profound, and I was proud of the way I played, and I think that is the power of sport. But at the same time I remember moments playing with Regent when I cringed because we (including me) were getting caught up in things. Rough games, angry words, and rivalries (grrr to those Beta Mustangs!). And I have also worked many an hour in hockey rinks and seen the violence and destructive power of parents and players who lose sight of the better side of sport. (Not to mention the colossal waste of money! I once counted up over ten thousand dollars in equipment on the ice and the kids were barely ten! Could the money be used better? That is another post, I think.)

    That being said, I think you should stay right here in Canada and be one of the voices of reason, just like in your post. I think it is human nature that makes sport - all sport - into something it is not, something violent and mercenary. But far more than the violence of the sport, it was the way we hold it up as an idol that was making me wring my hands. Don't get me wrong, I love hockey. But in that moment, a part of me was genuinely worried that we have taken hockey to new heights of idolatry, and that I was worshipping hockey more than my God. Seriously, I know that sounds a little out there, but I had to ask myself, how often are we moved to such terrible heights over things of the Kingdom? Hardly ever, and I was a bit sheepish that my love had been tapped so easily for something other than God. Kinda makes me think I'd be a good Israelite.

    So stay here in Canada and continue in your priestly duties - keep us focused on Christ, lead us in true worship.


    P.S. Pronger sucks!

  2. Faroe Islands....they dont play hockey, they dont even have one single place to play hockey ;)

  3. I'm with Jason: stay in Canada.

    Interestingly, I have just recently started watching--and enjoying--NHL hockey. My boyfriend is a Flames fan--though I wouldn't call him rabid ... or 'blazing'--though, he does like the hard-hitting and even harkens back to the glory days when he played hockey and could put a guy out of the game. This mystifies me.

    Even so, I tag along and quite enjoy everything but the violence. Which is why Olympic hockey fascinated me so much: it was so tame! So refreshingly gentlemanly! Violence in international hockey is, in Kevin's words, "bad form." The US & Canada certainly seemed like they wanted a good fight or two on Sunday (it's what they're used to). Restraining themselves seemed to call for more skill and less brawl in winning the game--or at least putting up a good defense.

    That's the sport.

    Then there's the faith aspect that Jason explored. Kevin & I attended a live Flames game in December and I was impressed by the size of the stadium and in awe of the talk of building a bigger stadium. "What's wrong with this one?" I asked. Kevin, somewhat tongue in cheek, replied, "More money." Hmmm. Bigger temple, perhaps? This is a problem ...

  4. Hey! Chris and I say Hi and think you would love MN, we like hockey...but not really as much as we like the slightly less violent sport of football. =) =)