What it means to be Canadian and apathetic towards hockey

Hockey was introduced late into 19th century, as a means of winter entertainment in an otherwise dreary season. Who would have thought that one day this Montreal based game would take Canada by storm. During play offs, game season, and the Olympics, hundreds of people gather inside pubs, restaurants, and friends’ homes to watch the games with immense hometown pride. More than anything there’s a sense of patriotism in the air during any match in which Canada competes.

Although I’m a born and raised Drake loving, poutine eating Canadian from the Six, I’m afraid that there’s one thing that I’m not: a hockey fan. Before you gasp, this entire article is dedicated towards demystifying the Canadian experience of those who are not as fond of this great winter sport.

Every nation and their citizens pride themselves on their national identity—for Canada that of course means multiculturalism, being Quebecois, poutine, winter and of course hockey. Being from Ontario, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, means that a majority of the people I know—friends, acquaintances, colleagues, coworkers and professors—are all to some extent hockey fans. During game season I see people roaming around wearing their hockey jerseys or other less conspicuous paraphernalia, proudly displaying their support and pride. My Facebook newsfeeds and TV news are littered with information about the game. Unwillingly, I too, am brought into the world of hockey.

Although, I don’t pay much attention to any Leaf game, I still feel a sense of joy and pride whenever I hear that they’re doing well for a change. Even more so, now that I am living abroad, surrounded by people of various nationalities, I feel the need to actually brag about my country and how we recently won the World Hockey Cup. Though we may not do well during the summer Olympics, we win constantly during the winter counterpart with our steadfast and talented hockey team. With this in mind, I know that some people may believe that not liking an aspect of one’s national identity, in this case hockey, might make you feel a bit more isolated or less Canadian. Though, that’s not quite the case, just like how there are people in Canada who don’t speak French, dislike winter, or any national sports, it doesn’t exclude them from what it means to be Canadian.

Even for those of us who are not fanatics of the game, I believe that hockey still possesses the power to unite us all. So many of us as children played street hockey outside, or floor hockey in gym class, bringing together friends and family. Years later, people who are not even fans of the sport, will still come together during the Olympics or a World Cup, because a victory for Canada is a patriotic victory for us all.

In some ways the effort put forth by Canadian hockey players reflects the qualities of Canadians; hardworking, determined, team players. And perhaps that is why although not a hockey fan, I don’t feel excluded nor isolated in this proud country. If that doesn’t convince you that not liking hockey doesn’t dampen your Canadian experience, The Guardian’s Sean McIndoe says, “ Not liking things is what hockey fans do. It’s kind of our thing.” So even if you don’t enjoy hockey, you’re still doing something right.

Image courtesy of Sabine Osmann-Deyman