In what other nation will you find millions of people staying up into the wee hours of the morning, waiting to celebrate with a bunch of teenagers, and it’s not even New Year’s Eve? Only in Canada is the correct answer when the question is applied to the World Junior Hockey Tournament (okay, perhaps Brazil watching their U-20s playing soccer in Europe).
For those who missed the 1 a.m. puck drop on Thursday – live from Russia – the Canadian boys lost the semi-final game 5-1 to the Americans, and thus missed another opportunity to bring home the gold to a hockey-mad nation.
Hockey-starved might be the more accurate term these days given the NHL lockout; and so we shifted our mostly collective allegiance from the Canucks to a highly-talented group of pimple-faced teens.
And it’s great fun to cheer on these “good Canadian boys,” as Don Cherry says, as they wheel and deal, hammer and chase, and celebrate each goal with bravado and glee.
Canadians love it and TSN knows this too. The Sports Network puts tremendous resources into the tournament and banks on this annual cash cow to boost its revenues (have you noticed that almost all the ads on the boards are from Canadian and American companies?). There’s nothing wrong with that and everyone seems to benefit.
Perhaps the only down side is the enormous pressure on these boys – not men just yet – to win the gold every year, and when that doesn’t happen, there’s often enormous disappointment back home.
It’s okay to feel disappointment, but you shouldn’t feel let down. The boys, as always played with “heart and soul,” and now the world plays hockey like this too – the Canadian way, and that’s reason to celebrate.