For hockey fans, I truly believe we are spoiled. If we want information on our favorite team or player the internet provides mountains of it in a second. If we want to watch our favorite team, technology provides us with the game in any time, anywhere and in any format that fits the biggest screens in our basements to the small displays on our phones. If we want best on best, we need to be a little patient, but every four years we get it with the Winter Olympics.
Nothing sparks the deep seeded patriotism in a Canadian than a player wearing the Maple Leaf and playing for a gold medal. Little is needed to enjoy such an event other than a television, some refreshments, and friends or family.
Let me be so bold to make a suggestion for your Olympic hockey viewing for Sochi this year. Add a kid or two. Not toddlers and not disinterested young adults. My experience has taught me that nothing can add to your enjoyment like an atom to pee wee aged hockey player. Why you ask? My answer to you is simple their love of the game is pure and their enjoyment just as pure.
Let’s face it as adults we tend to watch everything with a jaundice eye. I’m not saying we don’t enjoy the games and the spectacle, but the politics and the business of the hockey are never far from our thoughts. I remember the build-up to the Gold Medal game in Vancouver in 2010 had as much to do with the total value of the combined contracts of Team Canada as they did about winning in our own back yard. Even the debates about who should and shouldn’t be on team could have more to do with a person’s favorite team’s agenda and not about putting the best team together.
I learned this valuable lesson too late for 2010. I was working at a hockey school the past couple of summers when I made this startling discovery. I had the idea of showing the last couple of minutes of the overtime period to the young hockey players as a way of showing them how this great game unites a country. Instead they taught me about how much fun it is to watch the best players in the world through their eyes.
As Crosby and Iginla started to push for the eventual winning goal, I heard comments about Sid the Kid’s stick and how he must tape it in a special way. Somebody said they couldn’t wait to try to spin out of the corner like the Team Canada star just did. One youngster wondered out loud how they could possibly beat Team USA goalie Ryan Miller. Then the goal got scored. I’m sure these kids had seen it hundreds of times before but they cheered as if it was happening in real time, right in front of us.
These youngsters who came from all over Calgary and a day earlier were meeting each other for the first time went berserk. Now I know we all did; like we had in 2002 before; and not unlike we did back in ’72. Yet in the middle of August two years later it was different. The celebrants didn’t care about contracts, didn’t care about politics, and didn’t care about snubs. No all they cared about was hockey the play, the players, and the game.
Do yourself a favour this year when you get everyone together to cheer our men and women on in all of the events in February include the kids. Listen, watch, and include them. I guarantee it will make all the difference in the world.