Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hockey Fever

The Stephen Colbert crowd became indignant when NBC's Bob Costas honestly gave his opinion of why the Winter Olympics were of little interest to many Americans. Should that be very surprising? If you live in the balmy sunshine and have never seen a dash of snow how could you relate? Even worse, he didn't "pander" (as Colbert said it) to the crowd to claim Vancouver as the best Olympic host nation. The audience booed him, and has been slagging him, Colbert, Americans, and the British media on a great deal of forums, site commentary, and blogs showcasing that Canada doesn't lack a few ignorant overly sensitive individuals who can't take a joke.

As happy as I am that Canada is doing well... right now a few friends are getting unbearably smug about the Canadian women's hockey team's victory over USA, and will be absolutely intolerable if we win men's hockey as well. Yet, how many teams actually competed in women's hockey? It's not much of a competition unless a lot of countries can actually kick your ass.

Am I the only one that doesn't think it's not that big of a deal? That's as bad as USA claiming to be the world's best at baseball. Of course they are, none of the other countries care! To be truly impartial, to claim bragging rights as "world's best" you need to win the most popular sport in the world... SOCCER and nothing else. Poor countries, short people, tall people, even war torn countries can make a decent team and do well.

This year the world cup will take place in South Africa (link here to FIFA link), and is probably one of the oldest sports in the world. It's simple enough, and can be traced back to 1004 B.C. Japan and China and also during the Roman empire. The early Olympic games in Rome featured a fifty minute game of fifty four men scrambling to score a goal.

Over 33 million people tune into the 25 day (or more) sporting event, making it more popular than the Olympics, and is even bigger than baseball, American football and basketball combined!

In a way all of these events are a friendly way (usually) to be patriotic. To live vicariously through our athletes as a way of stress relief, fantasy or just plain escapism. Honking horns, waving flags, getting smashed with a few strangers at a local pub, all add to the fever of excitement every once in a while. It's a non-stop party downtown... the euphoria is an all time high, as the lead up to the gold medal hockey game Canada vs. USA reaches a fever pitch. For those poor athletes who haven't gotten much sleep in the village... be happy your events are done, a gold medal will guarantee chaos.