Despite being Canadian, I am not a hockey fan.
Its fast pace full-contact gameplay has never enchanted me. When my hockey friends describe the sickest goal of the week to me, my reaction is so what? I didn’t even know that hockey sticks break, substitutions can be made mid-play, or that everybody hates shootouts-until I reluctantly agreed to go to a Maple Leaf with my dad (spoiler alert: they lost).
I never liked the Leafs. They have not won a cup in almost 50 years – a fact they are not afraid to share with the dated banners hung high for everyone to see. Interestingly though, tickets to their games still sell out every match. If they suck so much, why do we keep coming back for more?
There are many things that symbolize Canada like beavers, Mounties and beer- but nothing embodies our nation’s spirit like the great sport of hockey. Hockey is the sport millions of Canadians tune their televisions to watch and devote their hearts to play. Hockey can even make friends out of enemies; just take a look at what happened in the 1972 Summit Series. The words “it’s our game” are imprinted in everything from commercials for beer and Tim Hortons to school textbooks.
If you were to drive by Bay and Front on a game night, you will be dangerously mesmerized by the stream of white and blue Leafs jerseys crossing the street. On nights team Canada play in championship matches, hydro companies from coast to coast must deal with millions of toilets being flushed simultaneously when the commercials come on. To many Canadians, hockey is truly a magical thing.
I don’t know why we are so persistent on coming back to watch out team lose. But there was an extraordinary feeling I had every time I returned to my seat. It was like picking up a broken pen but remaining confident that you could still write a masterpiece. It explained what it meant to be Canadian: to forgive your team every time they get scored against and miss a free shot. To recognize the banners as not a taboo but rather a reminder we can win once again.
So this is the magic of hockey.