USA Hockey: For Love of Country
I don’t really like hockey.
Living in Colorado for three years now, I realize how blasphemous that sounds. But it's the truth.
It’s not that I don’t “get” it or think it’s a dumb sport. I’m just not a fan. The same thing goes for rugby, track and field, and NASCAR.
I see the appeal, I understand why folks are drawn to it, but it’s just not my cup of tea. If that’s all there is to watch on TV during a Saturday afternoon, I’ll just get out and hit the fishing hole.
And my lack of love for this game on ice can’t be attributed to the fact I’m an Oklahoman. Growing up, I went to Tulsa Oilers games and watch the city of Tulsa’s four-team high school league, but whenever I went to a hockey game, it was mainly to see the gloves drop.
Heck, the majority of my knowledge about the sport comes from playing “Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey” and “NHL Breakaway ‘98” on the Nintendo 64, neither of which are true almanacs on Canada’s pastime.
Still, despite not being a fan of hockey, I wouldn’t trade this past week of watching USA in the Olympics with my roommates for anything.
You can pick your poison on whether that’s attributed to the sappy feeling of sharing time with friends or, the way I see it, to rooting for my country. Correction: our country.
The Rocky Mountain Collegian editor Sean Star said it best on his Facebook status Wednesday: “I don’t usually watch hockey, but when I do, I prefer Team USA.”
Star is right. When watching sports of which you’re not a big fan, it helps when it’s international play. You root for country.
It reminds me of my sophomore year in college, my first at Colorado State, living in Corbett Hall. The FIFA Women’s World Cup was being played in China, and despite staying up most nights until 2 a.m. annoying the heck out of my poor roommate while socializing, I went to bed early on those international game days so I could wake up at four in the morning and watch the USA play live. Good times.
It’s all about a sense of patriotism. Seeing the red, white, and blue fall behind by two goals against Canada on Sunday was not something that sat well with me. But when Ryan Kesler (whether he actually scored it or not) was credited with cutting the lead in half in the second period, I got a little excited.
I don’t really know hockey, but I know sports. I know momentum. I know how the snowball effect works.
I started to think, “OK, no problem. We’re right back in this.”
Then 26 more minutes went by, and the US could not score, could not even setup a good shot. Ryan Miller was pulled and the Canucks even cleared the puck toward that empty net. But it was still a time game.
Finally, with my heart pumping, the entire populous of the living room no longer on the couches but rather two feet away from the TV screen, with less than a minute to go, there's an offensive face-off for the US.
And something happened.
All is quiet …
Our house erupted while the Canada Hockey Place fell silent.
It was a good feeling. There was a sense of joy and camaraderie for about 20 minutes of real time until Sidney Crosby had to ruin it all.
Canada deserves credit. They played harder and won that game fair and square, but it’s rough to get silver while your ginger cousin from up north wears gold.
And being a die-hard Kansas Jayhawks fan as well as CSU student, this was just another loss to cap off a bad weekend for my teams. But this loss was actually bittersweet.
It capped off a fun two weeks of cheering for the United States, a time of brotherhood across the country.
I’m no hockey fan, but I’m a fan of our country. And while I still feel like the Winter Olympics are primarily a two-week episode of MTV’s “Jackass,” there are still the high points.
Uniting a country is definitely one of them.
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