Participants: Autumn McDowell [PR0] and Michael Chmielewski [CONTRA]
Autumn McDowell – Sports Editor
Hockey is Canada’s game.
Just like Canada, hockey does not discriminate – unless you like the Leafs. You don’t have to play this game to have a passion for it, but hockey is part of every Canadian’s life in one way or another.
Whether you have cherished memories as a four-year-old first stepping onto the ice on shaky legs, or you’re a parent who willingly gets up at six in the morning to drive your kid to practice at the local rink, or maybe you are part of an entire nation, collectively holding their breath as the time ticks down in the World Juniors. Whatever the case, hockey lives here.
No other sport can unite a nation quite like hockey can, but that does not seem to matter. While millions of Canadians proudly dawn hockey jersey’s to support their home team, lacrosse has been given all of the glory.
For reasons, which are impossible to explain, hockey has been left out in the cold – which is more surprising than the Leafs currently being at the top of the NHL standings. Hockey is not technically Canada’s sole national sport; it is instead forced to share the honor with lacrosse, because why would a sport that has come to be known as Canada’s past time make sense as the national sport?
[pullquote]“Just like Canada, hockey does not discriminate – unless you like the Leafs.”[/pullquote]
Some people may think that hockey is too violent for it to be known as the national sport of a country who is known for being home to the nicest people on Earth. It may not seem fitting that such a physical sport can be a staple of this country, but it isn’t as violent as people think.
Hockey may be a tough game, but it’s that physical nature has everyone on the edge of their seat. The player’s willingness to play the body and battle in corners until the final buzzer sounds is something that every fan can be proud of.
Something else to be proud of is Canada’s impressive record on hockey’s national stage. If the United States men’s and women’s teams had won gold a combined 11 times at the Olympics, it would be plastered all over the streets, and they would never stop talking about it. But in Canada, it’s different. Our quiet confidence allows us to continue to do well at a sport, while continuously being named most-sportsmanlike. Canadians don’t brag, they let hockey speak for itself.
But whether it’s under the big lights on a national stage, or under a few burnt out bulbs at the outdoor rink, hockey is a commonality amongst all Canadians. No matter your race, background, or gender, people can always find common ground talking about last night’s game.
As O Canada starts to play and thousands of fans join in as they wait anxiously for the first puck to hit the ice, that’s when the magic happens.
For Canadians, hockey is more than just a game, it’s our game.
Michael Chmielewski – Editor-in-chief
On the pain of Autumn never talking to me again, or extinction, I set out to deliver the following proposition: hockey should not be Canada’s national sport.
The question is flawed from the outset: “ice hockey” is the national winter sport of Canada, according to the National Sports of Canada Act. Lacrosse is the summer sport. Nevertheless, everybody knows that hockey is really Canada’s official sport, so I argue against that sad fact.
I take this contrarian’s position knowing full well how unpopular it is. I write to try and educate my fellow Canadians.
The NHL is the pinnacle of hockey entertainment, and many Canadians play in that league, but it’s an American industry. Canada raises these players so that they can play the “Canadian” game largely in the United States. Well, it’s a globalized world, and Canada is a resource-based economy, even when it comes to hockey players. Do hockey players apply under NAFTA?
The more important reason why hockey shouldn’t be Canada’s national sport is the price for youth. Historically, Canada has derived a plethora of talented players from a small population, and this was because hockey was every kid’s game. That is no longer a reality. Making it to the big leagues isn’t so much about skill, but how much money the parents have. This narrows the talent pool – but hopefully they focus their energy on productive pursuits.
[pullquote]“Canada’s game” is not Canadian. The only claims to this land it has are from a bygone era.”[/pullquote]
According to a CBC article, the cost of hockey for aspiring NHLers may be as high as university tuition. The article quotes Dyllon Gibblett, who explains the problem. When asked “why he isn’t playing midget AAA in North Battleford… he snaps back an answer without hesitation: ‘Why do we want to shell out $10,000 for a season of hockey?’” It’s simply not feasible.
This highway robbery is anti-Canadian. Hockey’s high prices have an exclusive nature: only a small elite cohort of kids with rich parents can play “Canada’s” game. Put yourself in an small child’s position: you see all your stars on TV, and you want to be like them. You beg and plead your parents, but they have to explain to you why some of your friends can play, but you can’t. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s much too early of an age to learn about class inequality.
Also, Canadian’s obsession with the game has negative affects on our populace. Instead of paying attention to the political and social world to make life better for everybody, we’re tuning in to watch overgrown boys skate in circles, hit each other, and possibly fight. If we’re lucky, we get to hear Don Cherry as he spews pained half sentence analysis of the game.
As I write these concluding lines, I can already feel the masses gathering their hockey sticks to destroy me. Many before me have been persecuted for telling the truth. So be it. “Canada’s game” is not Canadian. The claims it has to this land are from a bygone era.
Stephen Harper is writing a book on hockey.