The Thrill of Victory … the Atrocity of Defeat!

As someone who lived in the Boston area for more than 40 years before the economy finally tanked and I landed in western New York, I grew up with that image of Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup … along with ‘Bird stole the ball’ and Bill Buckner and a bunch of other Boston sports memories. Hockey was never my first love – that would be basketball – but I have kept track of the B’s throughout the years, finding hockey to be a much ‘purer’ sport where the stars are less likely to have rap sheets longer than their athletic accomplishments.

A couple of things always bothered me about hockey:
– How can we possibly have JUST wrapped up a ‘winter’ sport when even in Alberta they’ve been golfing and using their air conditioning for several weeks?
– I have always been mystified by sports that seem to have longer playoff seasons than regular seasons. Didn’t the playoffs for hockey this year start in like 2009 or something?

Yet last night I was thrilled to watch a fantastic Stanley Cup Game 7 between two great teams that have gone back and forth through the series, and even MORE thrilled that it went our way! This Bruins team managed to win three 7-game series, including the ‘impossible save’ goalie Tim Thomas made in Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning:

Late last night my family was all emailing each other from around the eastern half of the country in celebration. We grew up with Bruins playing cards in the drawer, all of us played youth hockey and went to a bunch of games through the years, so it was a great time to celebrate. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe gets in on the celebration, saying:

Today would be a good day to call your out-of-town friends and tell them you live in a city that just won its seventh championship in 11 years. You live in the only hamlet that’s won the Grand Slam of North American trophies within seven years

It is good-natured kidding – I have a good friend at work who is a rabid Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and she kidded me a while ago saying ‘do they still HAVE a hockey team in Boston’, so this morning I got to give her some grief in return. That is all fun – it is a game, we cheer on teams made up of people from all over the world representing a particular city or country. It brings some momentary joy to us all seeing a down-to-earth guy like Tim Thomas hoist the trophy:

And that is how it should be – the winning team celebrates in style and with class, and the losing team is very disappointed but shows dignity. And that is how it was on the ice last night – in spite of the nasty hits, bites, trash-talking and so on throughout the series, at the end the two teams respected each other and behaved like professionals.

And that is how it should be – NOT like this:

According to a New York Times article:

Rioting hockey fans clashed with police officers, set vehicles ablaze, smashed windows and looted stores and set several fires in downtown areas here on Wednesday night moments after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins.

Local hospitals reported eight people treated for stab wounds, according to Alyssa Polinsky, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health, the regional hospital authority.

During the rioting at least 10 cars were overturned and set ablaze across the downtown area, and windows were broken and items looted from the Hudson’s Bay Company department store and several other stores in the area.

According to one tweet :

And the riot begins. Boston fans, GTFO.

That included this picture:

I have never understood what it is that causes these sorts of things – either in victory or defeat. Certainly there are heightened emotions, and one would expect – particularly with alcohol added to the mix – some conflict. But rampant destruction, violence and looting? What is wrong with these people, and with the societies (U.S. and Canada in this case, but certainly this has been seen worldwide usually related to soccer) that people will cause millions of dollars of damage, personal injury and even death over the result of a sporting event in which they have no real personal investment?

I have found myself increasingly disappointed at how it doesn’t seem a major event can pass – sports championship, major concert, political rally – without people finding it necessary to cause wanton destruction for seemingly no purpose or trivial reasons. It reflects badly on the city, the team, the people … and ultimately on all of us.

I hope that someday we can once again enjoy sport for what it is – an exciting diversion and entertaining thrill ride.

Categories: Editorials, Rants and Raves


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