Today is Hockey Day in
A national sport is a shared image. The pastime of my nation (for some reason ‘pastime’ is the approved term in this case) is baseball, and though I don’t particularly like baseball as a game, I can claim it as mine because I know the image of it, because it is burned in my brain like a memory of something I never actually experienced.
It is late afternoon on a Sunday in summer, the declining hours where sweltering heat just becomes bearable. The air smells dry and fresh at the same time, the mingled scent of dust and grass, and the light has that golden-orange quality only found in Jerry Bruckheimer movies, travel ads for
I know nothing of baseball as a sport, but I am American in the most stereotypical sense, and therefore I have this image. It is no actual baseball game that has ever happened, anywhere, but nevertheless it is Baseball. It is what Baseball really is for us, it is what makes it a piece of ‘our nation’. We believe, for no good reason, that this image- in all its details, right down to the tune on the organ and the stride of the runner- tells us something about ourselves, that thing which we are that others are not.
There must, I think, be an equivalent image of hockey for Canadians, some meta-scene of the sport that speaks in some mysterious way to the sense of national identity, but I don’t have that image. All I know of hockey are actual players and actual games, a thousand specifics in search of a generalization. I have no sense of the Platonic ideal of Canadian hockey, but I wish I did, because I think somehow that it would then be more meaningful for me.
So to the various and sundry Canadians who might stop by this site today (or tomorrow, or the day after that), what’s the image that makes hockey more than just a sport for you? Not the logic of it, but the visceral sensation of it, that thing that flashes through your mind for a second when you think of hockey, which makes it not just yours personally but yours as a Canadian?
[I know, it’s usually a bad idea to try to use a post to start a conversation, people don’t like to comment, etc., but sometimes it’s better to ask than to tell.]