Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dual Citizen

USA captain Jamie Langenbrunner scores the game winning goal over Canadian goalie and New Jersey Devils teammate Martin Brodeur

My heart knows not what to do. 

I left Canada, the country of my birth, at age five, so my allegiance to the Truth North strong and free, though it persisted in an exuberant "that's where I'm from!" kind of way, never truly blossomed into full-blown Canuck patriotism. However, one link that was forged during my short time in the suburbs of Toronto was strong enough to endure (besides my jus soli citizenship) the move to the United States, and it's one that remains with me today: hockey (and writing the word "check" as "cheque," though I assure you all this habit has since fallen out of practice). And ever since my move the U.S. (especially as I have come to age in this country) I have not only adopted its customs, lifestyle, culture, and eventually citizenship, but have immersed myself in its history, origins, values, and politics. Accordingly, I have always cheered on my country, the United States of America, in in sports and all other endeavors while reserving quiet pride for our northern neighbors, my original countrymen (and many of my own family), and their achievements.  But when it came to hockey, I have never for a moment questioned what team I stood behind; Hockey Canada is still, despite its under-achievements and disappointments, the greatest hockey program in the entire world, and the teams it produces serve as the tangible manifestation of the aforementioned link to my second home.

Nevertheless, tonight's epic match-up between these two teams, one of which is burdened with the biggest expectations since a black man won something over a year ago, the other just pining for a chance to prove their own worth, tugged at my heartstrings. Seeing the outcome only complicated things further. Knowing how much this sport and this team means to the host nation, I was saddened and frustrated by their loss.  Seeing the scrappy, underdog, hustle'n'bustle American team upset a giant, I felt a swell of pride and joy. One moment I was wincing watching the goalie of my Devils (and the best in the world) Martin Brodeur get scored on, and the next moment I was smiling hearing the crowd chant "USA! USA!"  One moment I was pumping their air seeing Ryan Miller make another divine, out-of-this-world save, and the next moment I was staring up at the ceiling in frustration with the Canadian shooters. I felt weird not wanting the Americans to succeed, but in the end I was and am so proud of my country.  I realize this wasn't even a quarterfinal game and I'm writing about it as if it were the gold medal decider.  But this was still a very special game for American hockey fans and the country as a whole, and I only hope more casual fans who watched tonight's game will be encouraged to become full-fledged fans of the greatest sport on earth.  Tonight was a great night for hockey.

Hopefully tonight's loss to the Americans (as the near-loss to the Swiss was clearly not) served as a humbling wake up call for the star-studded Canadian squad while galvanizing a young, energetic American team seeking glory beyond what they're told their due.  I also hope we get a rematch in the gold medal game. And though I'm immensely happy for my country tonight, I know who I'll still be rooting for.  I'm content to see America dominate the gold medal count save for one sport.

Step into the rain:

1 comment:

  1. It was hard to watch them score on Marty repeatedly and when he was trying so hard! I felt pangs of sadness when they showed his face after the game was over. That being said, GO TEAM USA! I will embarassingly admit, if I had bet, I probably would have put my money on Canada. I hope they play each other again...I'm still scared of the Russian hockey team though...