Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hockey as the Great Canadian reframe

It occurred to me today that our national sport is a brilliant reframe of our collective past. I have studied Canadian history, and read Canadian literature (almost the same thing), and stood at the edge of a forest and wondered at people so determined and so driven that they looked at forests and saw farm fields.

No one who has read any amount of Canadian literature is unaware of what winter meant to the settlers who left Europe to make homes here. What did winter leave them except rocks and snow and the bare bones of the trees?

What kind of courage and imagination does it take to turn that bleak prospect into a game? What is hockey but a field of ice on which men hit a rock with sticks? Our people - sturdy, brave, and given to conflict - turned struggle into a game about fighting and flying and more than a little camaraderie.

No one cheered for settlers in the bleak Canadian winter. But we cheer now - and raise a beer - and proclaim our heritage through hockey.

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