USA Hockey: It’s Just Better
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2014 00:02
The men’s Olympic hockey tournament has been called the greatest tournament in the world — and with good reason. The tournament’s games are real, and they’re spectacular. However, it has come to my attention that some unpatriotic haters don’t care that much about watching the United States prove that we’re better than other countries at the Olympics the same way we’re better than other countries at everything — except maybe healthcare and education. Today, no matter what group of unenthusiasts you belong to, I’m going to convince you to be hyped for the Olympic hockey tournament — because I certainly am.
Group I: You think hockey is a stupid sport.
Fine, I guess I can’t convince everyone. But I’m actually glad that these people will annoyingly get in my face about how dumb the sport is because it makes it easier for me to know who not tobe friends with.
Group II: You’re Canadian and therefore rooting for their national team.
Justin Bieber is from Canada. See? I’m swinging allegiances already.
Group III: You only watch hockey for the good-looking guys the way I’ll only watch figure skating for the attractive girls.
Look, I only care about the U.S. women’s soccer team for Alex Morgan. I know that there’s a group of people out there who couldn’t explain what offside is if their lives depended on it; but will still turn on a New York Rangers game to watch Henrik Lundqvist because he’s “dreamy.” That’s fine, and you’re in luck! I looked up which players are thought of as the hottest, according to female hockey fans. (Important note: I promise that I actually had to research this for the column. It’s not like a list of the hottest hockey players is bookmarked on my Firefox browser or anything.) It’s become clear that those who keep tabs on these things really like Americans Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler and Patrick Kane. Coincidentally, those three are expected to be in the top line for the Americans!
And, even if I still have no idea whether girls like a nice guy or a bad boy — seriously, no idea — it’s clear that the USA hockey coaches didn’t know when they were selecting the team, either, because they covered all bases. Zach Parise is known as a hardworking, likable leader who has few enemies in the National Hockey League, while Patrick Kane once drunkenly beat up a cab driver over 20 cents. Take your pick, ladies.
Group IV: You hate homophobia, and don’t want to watch an Olympics taking place in Russia
This is commendable, but here’s the thing: Vladimir Putin and Co. aren’t bothered by you hating Russia and its homophobic laws. You know what would actually bother them? The Americans beating them in the Olympics. Personally, I’m hoping for the U.S. team to beat the Russians in the gold medal game, somehow escape the country without getting detained by the KGB (Soviet Union Committee for State Security) and then deliver a message to Russian leaders once they reach American soil. If it were up to me, this message would be written on a rainbow flag and employ a play on words to call out Russia’s ridiculous homophobia … maybe something like “Suck it, Putin!” That’s the kind of thing that would really anger the Russian leaders, and if you’re not rooting for that, well, I don’t know what to tell you.
Group V: This column made you decide to watch the movie “Miracle” right before the first game, which will make you repeatedly scream “BORN IN THE USA!” at your television during the game as the Bruce Springsteen song plays in the background.
Hey man, whatever works. No judgment here; and I’m glad that I could help.
Group VI: You have pride for your country and appreciate how exciting hockey is, especially in the playoffs, but just can’t seem to be passionate enough to care about the tournament.
All jokes aside, this column is mainly written for people in this group. Anyone who has watched playoff hockey knows how thrilling it is, whether you have a rooting interest or not. And here’s the amazing thing: Olympic hockey might be better. Players sell out on every play, whether it’s blocking a shot that’s traveling 100 mph or playing more minutes in a game than they ever have before.
Other factors also add to why a casual viewer of hockey would love the Olympics. Although I still think a minor amount of fighting has a place in hockey, it’s unquestionable that the Olympics are better off without it. This year’s games will also be played on a wider sheet of ice, as European rinks have different sizes than North American ones. The extra space will reward the teams that can play with the most skill, not the ones that can throw the best punches. While I value the fighting and increased physical play of an 82-game NHL regular season, it’s clear that the setup we’ll have in a week is better for a seven-game tournament. The Olympic hockey tournament will be all about pure skill, with a little bit of heart and national pride mixed in. Isn’t that the way we want it?
Tom Hoff is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. Down to the Wire appears Fridays.