why hockey matters so

Now this is coming from an avid art lover and political junkie – I think I’ve fallen under the spell of hockey. Why does it define us so? What can we learn from it? It’s expensive. It eats up evenings and weekends. It’s solitary in a way. When your kids play hockey, you sit and watch while they get some exercise.

If your family skis at least you all get a bit of a workout. And at last check, a ski pass for a family of four pales in comparison to a single season of hockey including fees, ice time, tournaments never mind trips to Tim Hortons. Yet skiing is considered a luxury. I’m not convinced I could afford to put my kids in hockey. But I can afford a few trips down the peanut trail at Silver Star every winter. I think the hot chocolate at Bugaboos is the luxurious part. But I digress.

So what’s the point? Is it because we can all watch hockey even if we can’t all play – well at least I can’t play – despite joining a woman’s rec league this year. But  I enjoyed it. That’s the important part. And I finally know what icing and off side mean. Not that it helped me any watching the Olympic tournament.

What captivates us so about “the” game? Is it the players? Each generation had its faves. Maurice Richard (if you can spare 10 minutes, watch this nfb video: http://www.nfb.ca/film/sweater/), Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby or Halley? Is it because they do what we all wish we could?

Since the big game, my kids and the neighbours’ kids have dug out the sticks and the hockey balls taking turns being Team Canada and Crosby and Luongo. It’s a delight. And I’m grateful when I see their lovely rosy cheeks after an afternoon in the back alley.

Maybe hockey knows no bounds. Player or not, we can talk about it. Analyze it. Joke about it. Share it. Belong to it.

My favourite promotional clip from the Olympics was the skater racing along the frozen lake. What freedom. As a former figure skater, I loved that feeling. That few minutes of solitary ice time. Me and my skates. To this day, my least four favourite words in the english language are “please clear the ice”. But the disappointment is quickly diminished by the sound and the zen of the Zamboni going round and round. Making it all better like a kiss on a scraped knee from a loving parent. The fun begins again. Even if, in your neighbourhood as well as in mine,  there are two Luongos in goal and ten Crosbys on ice and Team Canada is playing against Team Canada yet again, when you cheer them on, we all feel good.

See you at the game!


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