The fantastic hockey game today got me thinking about patriotism and what an odd, yet good thing it is.
Take me for example. I don’t watch TV. Paul and I have one that we hook up to our laptop in order to watch downloads and stuff off of Netflix. Yet today, after we returned from our run, I decided to hook the TV up for the game before a much-needed shower. Yes, me. I did that. I wanted to watch great hockey. It was the Canadian thing to do.
Paul and I had already had a few debates about the Olympics. He has been completely uninterested, claiming he couldn’t care less what feats are performed on ice and snow. (Can you tell he’s British? ;)) I had even been tempted to hook the TV up earlier to watch snowboarding, but contented myself with the online videos. I could re-play Shaun White in the half pipe as much as I wanted.
I’ll get off-track for a second to say I can understand some of Paul’s indifference. Of course the Olympics have their share of issues (including the tackiest, most drawn-out closing ceremonies). However, I think it’s great to have the world rallying around something positive, rather than only catastrophic events. I don’t watch sports, but I admire and respect athletes…especially the Olympians. It’s inspiring to see them pull off what had previously been impossible – all because of training and determination. (Sure, sure, there are the piles of sponsorship money and pressure thrown at them, but they have to have talent regardless.)
This afternoon, when I was anxiously watching the then tied-up game, I stepped back for a minute or two and saw all of the crafty branding that goes into patriotism. We have our national anthem (and the Hockey Night in Canada theme song). We have colours, and an emblem. And add the hype/the marketing to the mix. There were the Canadians vying to prove that hockey is indeed “our” game. One of the only things that defines us. The game was set up as historic: our game on our ground.
All of it worked, especially when combined with the players’ athleticism. But I could see the marketing only for those few minutes. Inevitably, the awareness didn’t matter. It felt good to remember watching Hockey Night in Canada with my dad. It was exciting to witness the winning goal. And it was thrilling to know that something so basic, yet skilled could make a notoriously polite nation lose it for a day, or—I hope.—maybe two.