Please shelve the Canadian ‘small man syndrome’ for a change

If I was asked to describe myself surely one of the first things that would pop into mind would be “sports fan.” As a sports fan, what I saw last Wednesday was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

Being born, but not raised in Canada, I guess I’ll never fully know what it’s like to live and die by the maple leaf or cry myself to sleep because Canada placed second at one of the few sports it’s competitive in. Normally, I’d be complacent to let the usual grumblings of a Canadian silver medal in hockey go on with no bother, but I’m really getting sick and tired of it.

I will always remember this year’s World Junior Championship (WJC) gold medal game as one of the greatest comebacks in recent memory.

It ranks right up there with the 2004 American League Championship Series, where the Red Sox came back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees. Now, I know many of you are still seeing red and are huffing and puffing about the absolute meltdown by everyone wearing a Team Canada jersey on the ice, but I’m hoping you’ll see too once the smoke clears.

If you had watched the Sweden game, you knew a third period collapse was definitely possible, especially as this group of juniors has been labelled as “choke artists” from to bringing home the silver medal in 2009.

Oh my God, two silvers in a row? What are we going to do now?
Never have I been anywhere where a sport is so closely tied to the theme of national identity (yes, I’ve been to Europe several times and I’ll argue all day that the English and other Europeans don’t care about soccer as much as Canadians care about hockey.)

It’s almost as if our status as one of the world’s top nations is up for grabs every time one of our national teams hit the ice. If we lose: oh shit, there goes our ability to make a name for ourselves on a world stage. If we win: it’s usually a display of arrogance at its finest.

And yes, Canadians are just as arrogant when it comes to hockey than the Americans or Russians are at anything else. Whenever we lose, we are always quick to insult the victor (“stupid Ruskies, they only won because Putin would have them killed had they lost” or my personal favourite “stupid Americans, at least we have health care!”)

I don’t know how many Facebook statuses I have seen where my friends were jumping for joy over the Russians getting kicked off their Delta flight due to their obnoxious post-game celebratory attitudes. Yeah it’s funny, but who’s still going home with the gold?

I root for Canada just like most people in this country when it comes to hockey, but I don’t let a loss to a more deserving team ruin my night or my week. Be proud of your team, wear your jersey, watch the game but tone it down for God’s sake.

Canada coming in second, two years in a row no less, is not the end of the world nor will the world think less of Canadians.

Baseball is known as “America’s Game,” but do the Americans piss and moan as much as we do when they don’t win the World Baseball Classic?

Of course they don’t. It’s just a sport. Sure, when Tarasenko roofed the puck to take the 4-3 lead my stomach churned, but I also admired the solid cross-ice pass that led to the goal and wondered whether or not Tarasenko would be able to replicate his play throughout this tournament as a newly-drafted member of the St. Louis Blues.

It wasn’t enough to enjoy a really good WJC tournament this year with one of the deepest pools of prospects in some time. No, Canada apparently must win the gold for anything in hockey to be enjoyable. Get over it already.

Dynasties come and go in sports and the Canadian stranglehold on WJC gold simply isn’t as tight anymore. Can we all just put Canada’s Small Man Syndrome on hold for next year and enjoy some good old fashioned junior hockey?
I highly doubt it, but here’s to hoping.