I was in grade 11 when Canada and the US faced off for Olympic Gold in men's hockey in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was a school day. Our TV hall monitors were switched from displaying messages and announcements to the game. People came to school in red and white with maple leaves tattooed on themselves and capes of Canadian flags. Instead of a biology lesson, the TV was hauled out and we just watched. Tests had to be rescheduled. Cheers erupted that could be heard blocks away each time Canada scored. When the bell rang we poured into the halls and into the main foyer where hundreds of students gathered around a relatively small screen to watch the last period. Final Score: Canada 5, USA 2. Men, big, burly men, cried. Businesses shut down. Bars spilled into the streets. Lots of people drank a lot of beer.
And here we are again, eight years later, Canada playing the US for Olympic gold: on home ice. Now, I'm not a follower of hockey. But I grew up in rinks and I know about putting skates on at six in the morning after your parents drove through a blizzard and unplowed streets to get there. And every Canadian has played their share of floor and street hockey. And though I am at times troubled by the amount of esteem we give athletes, I must admit, there is no other sport that unites us in the way that hockey does. And no other specific game that brings out our patriotism more than the Olympic Gold hockey match. And to sweeten the pot, we're playing our game in our country against the US of A, the country we most love to think we're just a little bit better than.