There's all a flurry over the gold medal match between USA & Canada's Men's Hockey today.
With all due respect to my national pride and heritage, and with no slight to the Canadian team overall, I am not interested in this big match.
I am old enough, you see, to have lived and experienced the grudge match in men's hockey of all times : USA vs. USSR.
Not only was national pride on the line, not only was it between two arch enemies (literally!), but the calibre of players was different as well. In those days, professional hockey players could not play on Olympic teams. Heck, answer me this: how many Canadian Olympic players play for the Pittsburgh Penguins? I am quite certain there are pros on the US team as well... but I haven't bothered to investigate specifics because it won't change my overall opinion.
Now, were I to split hairs, I could suggest the Soviet's fed and cared for their elite players as good (or better) than US' pros were cared for here in the states. Doing so, however, only bolsters my position even more: our Olympic athletes had no support from the government and got by on a few sponsors and the help of family.
And they beat the snot out of the Soviet team!
Win or lose, all Olympic athletes deserve praise, have no doubt.
But please: let's not go gung-ho should the US beat Canada, nor hang our heads in comparative shame if the Canadians win. Yes, it's a gold medal, and the winner deserves it and all it brings.
But do not think it even comes to what happened in 1980.
Not a chance!
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