Monday, March 1, 2010


Despite my active disinterest in most sporting events (my motto on this topic: “If it’s NAE SCOTTISH, it’s CRRRRAAAP!”), we were of course pleased when Canada broke all kinds of records yesterday in winning the gold in Men’s Hockey -- or as my friend Dave Smith says, “Ice Quiddich” -- as well as Curling and a bunch of other things. I'm writing this eight hours after the game and the parties are still far from winding down.

Canada finds itself quite surprisingly on top in terms of gold medals, and even surpassing Norway to take the Bronze in “Sheer Number of Medals Collected.” True to our good-natured nature, Canadians don’t see this as “we beat the USA” so much as they see it as “our teams are really world-class -- and by extension, so is our country!”

Our American friends may just smile and think “well of course they care a lot about hockey!” but as  we’ve come to discover it’s a lot more than that. Canadians don’t really have a competitive spirit (or at least not an aggressive one) in much of anything apart from hockey, and ostentatious displays of patriotism are usually seen as boorish (except on Canada Day).

So we don’t see the USA as a rival to be beaten or a king to be toppled; there’s absolutely nobody the Canadians would rather play with than the US, and there is a genuine and heartfelt affection for the American athletes here, who are as well-regarded as the locals; it’s very reflective of the Canadian view of the US in general.

Canada just wants to be taken seriously as a world-class country; it wants recognition of its separate identity, and it wants to be in the game. Sure they’re similar to the US, but they are different and they can step out of America’s giant shadow.

The hosting of the Olympics started the ball rolling, but the last 48 hours have felt to Canadians as though they have finally arrived on the world stage and shown they can run with the big boys. It’s not just hockey, as gripping as that final game was; it’s the idea that their quirky, diverse, polite and not-a-melting-pot-but-a-tapestry culture has finally made it clear to the world at large that they are firmly fond of -- but distinct from -- both the country below and the various ancestries that form its people. As Molson put it some years ago, “We. Are. Canadian,” and this day marks perhaps the strongest rebirth of that ideal since the country gained its full independence in 1982.

It was a great day for Canada and a great games for the US. Just how we like it.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations from an American to Canada for its accomplishments in the Olympics.

And i do like the fact that Canadians don't go overboard on patriotism and nationalism the way Americans do.

i have never been to Canada, but i have met some Canadians over the years and i have always found them to be very nice people.


Helena said...

Rick Nash, who is the captain of the Columbus (Ohio) Blue Jackets played on the Canadian team. So I'm happy a homeboy was up there to help Canada win. Hockey is sooo Canadian. The Arena is right across the street from work and I've not gone to a game, nor plan to, even when there are free tix. Just want to be home with my 3 furry friends.