One of the most enjoyable things about the Olympics was the men's ice hockey tournament, which of course culminated in Canada besting the U.S. 3-2 in overtime on a Sidney Crosby wristshot for the gold medal. Disappointed as I was in the defeat of my countrymen (who had without much lead time turned themselves into a hard-working, close-knit, and formidable team), it hardly induced a feeling of crushing depression in me. Yet, this is what my Canadian friends would have faced had their team failed to claim gold in their national sport. As I have learned firsthand from the Canadians I've known, almost without exception nice people all who turn into raving, nationalistic lunatics when it comes to their hockey team, there is no analogous sporting passion to that which Canadians feel for hockey in American culture. Sure, baseball and basketball were both invented here, and we want to be the best at those, but losing to, say, Japan or the Dominican Republic in the former, or to Spain or Argentina in the latter, is not a matter of national shame. Nor is beating them a source of national pride. One is just something that happens and is disappointing, the other something that happens and is gratifying, and that's it. In Canada, with hockey, it's different.
As a result, in addition to disappointment, I also feel relief, that my friends will not have to deal with the kind of disappointment that is born of only that kind of frustrated passion. I really do hope they enjoy winning the gold medal, rather than merely treat it as something to be relieved about; they deserve it.
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