Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Goal Heard 'round the Block

Some CBCer this morning asked whether Sidney Crosby's goal that won Canada a hockey gold medal last Sunday at the Olympics was the most important goal ever scored. My first reaction was that even if it were, it was still pretty unimportant. Let's face it, in overtime in a game like that it is essentially all fluke at the end and the fluke fell Crosby's way. Even he points out he was not sharpshooting which is even more obvious from replays.
Screaming Canada fans started shouting the likes of "It's our game", and this is so wonderfully stupid a claim that it is embarrassing that the media let it pass. Except that the job of the media is to let it pass.
This is the second gold Canada has barely won in the last 8 years in a final with the US, and barely in both cases. In the course of the games this year, Canada barely beat Switzerland (!) and Slovakia (!) - might I point out the population differences? In Turin Switzerland, with no major population changes, beat Canada.
There was a long period of time when hockey was Canada's game. And then other countries started playing the game. And then Canada stopped winning Olympic gold medals with the amateur teams we sent to them, but for many years we kept saying, and by 'we' I mean our sports media, and the people who cared (I hate hockey - I never cared), "Well we don't get gold because we cannot send out best players".
And so we go to 1972 and, at least in Canada, another candidate for the goal heard around the world, the Henderson goal that allowed the best players in Canada to squeak a series win out over the USSR.
But what a pathetic accomplishment, as that series established that, no, even if you assembled the best Canadian players, and all the Canadian press said they would win 8-0, and by a million goals, they were at best essentially even with the best Soviet players - in fact the first two games of that series were an utter embarrassment. Worse, it took demonstrably dirty and unattractive play by the Canadians to win. And over following years, world chanpionships and tournaments featuring the best players from each country have allowed many to win the tournament. Even as countries shrink down to Slovakia.
Canada does not dominate, and Sidney Crosby's goal does nothing to suggest such a thing. Sports reporters who allow this notion to persist are sports reporters, not reporters.


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