Russians walk off the ice, Canadians should shake it off
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. June 2, 2015
We won. They acted like poor sports—or as they put it, they made a “mistake.” After the annual World Hockey Championship, with the Canadians beating the Russians 6-1, the majority of the losing team skated off the ice as “O Canada” began to play. Whether it was an act of disappointment, bad sportsmanship, or political displeasure, it didn’t look good for the organization and the individual players. Still, there is nothing more awful than being forced to watch someone else celebrate, especially after getting plastered.
I have played hockey games—not at the international level, but still competitively—and I know how it feels to want something and then have someone beat you for it. Fuck them, right? I’ve shaken their hands, I’ve congratulated them, and now you want me to stand patiently while they sing their silly national song? We lost. Let me leave. What more do you want?
I get it. There is a patriotic aspect to international sports; that is why the Olympics and World Cups are so popular. But we don’t need the opposition to look sad while our song plays. Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of national anthems at sporting events altogether. I’ve heard “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” so many times they’ve lost all meaning.
The act made the team look like they had “no class” as Don Cherry would say. We all know what type of player Ilya Kovalchuk is, and the fact that he led the way was no surprise. But let’s not forget about the players that stayed on the ice, including superstars Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Hockey is a team sport, but sportsmanship is an individual game. If you are going to punish anyone, punish the players individually, not the whole organization.
Then again, what punishment would fit, especially during this heated tumultuous time between North America and Russia? Hockey may be the glue that keeps people together, but it is not a Band-Aid for international problems. Punish players, but don’t punish the game of hockey. It’d be a shame to see Russia banned from the tournament next year. It would be a shame if we couldn’t beat them again next year.
For now, I’m happy giving the Russians the benefit of a doubt. In the heat of the moment, people do things that are in poor taste, but in the long run, nobody was hurt. So whatever, our national anthem wasn’t for them anyways.