Between a number of Canadian politicians going on tropical vacations while telling us not to leave our houses (since we are still in the midst of a, you know, goddamn global pandemic!) and an actual coup attempt by a group of largely Caucasian extra large men in that “great” country in our basement, I have to hand it to the first week of 2021: I didn’t think you had it in you, but you picked up right where 2020 left off.
Right now North America is basically a large boat headed for an iceberg with a few very intelligent people trying desperately to convince indifferent and incompetent people to not be, well, indifferent and incompetent (damnit, I’ve just given James Cameron the idea for another movie. Sorry everyone.) So it’s up to the reasonable among us to help guide each other through, while the unreasonable try to live on despite their stupidity.
However, I am still hopeful for a couple of reasons:
Still, something else happened this week that I’d like to focus on because it presents a more worthwhile, teachable lesson than the fact that the number of stupid people in the world is, well, stupefying. And that is, the gold medal game of the World Junior hockey championships between Canada and the U.S.
I, like millions of Canadians, watched the game, along with, I assume, the immediate families of the American players. We (whenever Canada plays a hockey game I make myself part of the team even though when I skate I can’t properly stop) hadn’t lost a single game in the tournament going in and we were the defending gold medal champions! Team U.S.A. was, by comparison, not us.
When the U.S. scored their first goal in the first period I got a little nervous, changed seats on the couch and kept on cheering. 1-0 deficit early in the game? No problem. We’ll come back.
When we went down 2-0 early in the second period, I got a little more nervous, changed seats again and this time sat only on the edge, hoping that might help. In the end of course, it wasn’t enough (I should have tried standing. My bad.) The U.S. defeated Canada (when it’s a loss I remove myself from the equation) by a final score of 2-0. They won gold and Canada won silver. Which of course is another way of saying Canada “lost the gold”.
The American players jumped around on the ice, elated, while our (I’m back now) young men took a knee, slumped, or simply deflated into themselves like holiday inflatable figures whose work is done for another year. I turned the channel then, to CNN, to watch the results coming in from the Georgia runoff, hoping this time the team identified with the colour red wouldn’t win. Honestly, I just didn’t want to see the sadness and the feeling of failure on the young Canadian players’ faces.
We’ve seen it before. Canadian hockey players accept silver medals with the same enthusiasm that Superman would accept a necklace of pure kryptonite.
This time, however, would be a little different. Due to COVID restrictions (another good time for a reminder here. We’re still in that same pandemic I mentioned earlier.) Canadian team captain, Bowen Byram, would present many of his teammates with their medals. It was a little easier I’m sure for the players to accept their silver from their teammate who had just been through the battle with them than it would have been from an older man in a suit. As it turned out Byram himself was so overcome with emotion that he had to be consoled by his teammates while in the midst of consoling them. But console each other they did. They knew they had been defeated by a very good American team, fair and square. They didn’t like it, but they accepted it. They also, as is tradition, congratulated the winning team immediately following the game (something American politics may want to adopt next Presidential election) Our Canadian lads wanted the gold and came away with the silver. It may well prove to be a better motivation for those young men than winning the gold would have.
After the game Canadian hockey pundits described this team as “the best that didn’t win gold”, which I’m sure isn’t going to help ease the pain for the players involved. Then those same pundits began their disappointing post mortem of “what went wrong” which I absolutely despise because it’s the wrong way to look at things.
Sometimes you just lose.
Society, especially in North America, has been taught that we all need to win at all costs all the time and if we lose at something we were wronged. It’s the mentality my 6 year old daughter Scarlett had playing games for the first couple years of her life. But she grew out of it once I explained to her a few times that it is easy to be happy when you win, it’s much more challenging to lose with grace. This week the world junior hockey championships provided a real life lesson in exactly how to do that. While what happened in our basement showed the extreme opposite.