National sport brings pride, not worries

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Hockey’s positive ability to unite Canadians shouldn’t be decried — in fact, it should be celebrated.

A recent column published in The Globe and Mail by Lawrence Martin laments Canada’s total obsession and focus on the sport.

While Martin believes hockey has become too important to Canadians, his analysis lacks a global context.

This past week, 21 individuals were sentenced to death in Egypt for a deadly riot that broke out at a soccer match last year. Hooliganism is commonplace in the U.K. at ‘football’ matches, where fights between fans of opposing teams often break out.

It’s not that Canada’s love of hockey has always been perfectly passive — the Vancouver riots in 2010 were an unfortunate occurrence that most definitely brought the profile of the sport down.

Canada’s culture surrounding hockey doesn’t seem that extreme compared to other countries. Their love of sports can be far more dangerous than Canada’s. There’s little violence at major hockey games and there are rarely criminal charges laid on individuals as a result of hockey.

It’s also true, as Martin points out, that some parents take their children’s career in hockey too seriously. The culture surrounding the sport, especially at a competitive level, can be all-consuming. However, we shouldn’t see this is as a serious national problem — if anything, this should be seen as a parenting or coaching issue with the individuals involved.

Hockey is more often than not a unifying force in this country — something that the diversity of Canadians from different backgrounds can come together and be proud of.

It’s been around in Canada since before Confederation and has been consistently celebrated. Whether it’s when Team Canada wins gold at the Olympics or when a child’s peewee hockey team wins at the local skating rink, Canadians are proud of their national game.

Why shouldn’t we celebrate the fact that we view hockey as something that is ours — something distinctly and undeniably Canadian?

There’s no need to worry –— hockey culture in Canada isn’t flawless, but it’s still something that, at the end of the day, can bring us as Canadians together.

— Journal Editorial Board

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