Nature vs Nurture. A puzzling conundrum for people everywhere. Is it our genetics or our environment that shape us? Or is it a combo?
As I sit and watch the Olympics, I can't help but ponder: are sports fans born? Or are they made? Because I find myself obsessed with Olympic Hockey and I can't take it anymore!!!
My hockey fandom was hardly a given, despite the fact that I was born and raised here in Canada. Sure I hung around the rink as a kid. But only because I had no choice. My brother played hockey and I had to go along for the ride. But skating was never my thing. It still isn't. Ditto for winter. And while I pretended to collect hockey cards, it was probably just to bother my brother, show him who was the boss - with the best cards.
I did go to the Saturday night games now and then. My grandfather and I, always leaving 5 minutes before the game ended, regardless of the score. That's just the way it was. And I loved going. Not because I had to get dressed up (I did). And not because my grandfather and I shared meaningful moments (he didn't speak). I liked those nights because of the pre-game dinner. Always a restaurant, sometimes a lobster.
So why is Team Canada making me want to hurl???
I hate sports. H.A.T.E. I'm the girl who brings a book to sporting events. Sure I watched a lot of hockey - mostly with various hockey-playing boyfriends. I'd grab my hot chocolate and feign interest, trying not to stare at the clock. I don't get basketball - and apparently never will as my Man has banned me from going to games. What? I was bored... And football? Well, that's an American thing. Almost a foreign language -that I have no desire to learn. That said, I did watch the Super Bowl for the first - and last? - time this year. Tennis anyone? Pas moi. Soccer? When I lived in London I found myself in a restaurant, alone, during the world cup. I was getting take out and could feel the pavement shaking when England scored. I thought it was some strange tremor. Hadn't a clue.
But back to hockey. A few years ago I went to a game as a lark. Something to do on a Saturday night. By game's end I'd bought a shirt and knew a handful of players. By the end of the season I knew every Leaf player. And number. I was in in in.
And then the league went on strike and I thought it was a passing fancy. A one-nighter stretched across a season. Nothing more.
I was wrong. I couldn't shake it. Despite watching my home team lose time and time again, I held out hope. I didn't just watch the games, I read the sports pages. I even watched the draft picks. And of course, the losses. Over and over again, the bloody losses.
And then......the Olympic circus came to town. Not my town, but to my television. And I got sucked in. Big time. And it was a revelation to be backing a winner. In their first game, my beloved Team Canada didn't just win in, they killed it! Showed the poor Norwegians no mercy. And I loved it. What a high! What a thrill! And then....they played the Americans. And what a nightmare it was. It was during this nail-biting and ultimately gut-wrenching game that I wondered what I'd become. And how I could shake it.
I gasped. I groaned. I squirmed in my seat. None of it in a good way. My Man couldn't take it. I was so tense I was stressing him out. I tried telling myself it was just a game. A hockey game. A bunch of mulleted, gap toothed boys skating around chasing a rubber disc with sticks. But it didn't work. And when they did lose, I took it personally. Maybe I jinxed them by poo-pooing the importance of it all? Had I, like the team itself, taken it for granted that they'd win? You'd think I'd be used to backing the losers. But I fell for this team. And all the bloody marketing that went with it.
And so it continues. I watch the games, and then I discuss them. I read papers and teach my kids. I feel like I'm living in one of those cheesy commercials. In fact, I've gotten so into it, I've started liking those cheesy commercials!
Auf wiedersehen Deutchland. Nyet nyet Soviets. Close but no cigar Slovaks.
And now.....the Americans are coming. Coming back. And I'm trying to relax. Not get myself too worked up over the whole thing. It is after, all just a hockey game. At the very least, they'll get a silver medal which is, in itself, pretty impressive, right? RIGHT?!
If only I believed that. If only I didn't care. But I do. Please - let it all just end happily ever after already. So I can get back to my life or cheering for the losers. I didn't think it'd be so hard to back a winner.
GO GOLD OR GO HOME!!!!!