Monday, February 24, 2014

Olympic Hockey and Religion

Like most of Canada I watched the gold medal games (as well as some of the other games). Those Olympic hockey games were the only games I have watched all the way through this season. In comparison, most of the NHL games I have watched are pretty lame. But it's not NHL hockey that I want to write about.

Sunday morning the headlines blared the gospel of Canadian Hockey, as our men triumphed on the Olympic rink, just like our women did a few days earlier. Much of Saturday and Sunday's news was about how brave, patriotic Canadians were getting up very early Sunday morning and braving frigid temperatures to heroically make their way to the pub to watch the big game. There were even video clips of mosques and churches that decided to show the game before morning worship. The overall mood was exultant. 

This is what it means to be Canadian, we rehearsed to ourselves, over and over again. 

At one level, this idea that "hockey is Canada’s religion" is simply hyperbole. It simply say that hockey matters to Canadians

But behind all that there is a hint of truth. If hockey is like a religion, then, among other things, it is saying that our identity and value is tied to our winning the gold medal. Hockey is what brings us together. 

But maybe the hyperbole over hockey says less about Canadians’ love for hockey and more about our diminished worldview. Maybe it's not: “We love hockey so much that it’s almost like a religion!"; but, “There is so little else that matters to us and our identities are so frail that we will settle for a bunch of millionaires who happen to have been born on the same chunk of dirt as us winning a hockey tournament to give our lives meaning and purpose.” Maybe the statement “hockey is Canada’s religion” isn’t so much about how much hockey matters to us, as how little religion (and more importantly faith) does. 

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