The radio is reminiscing about the last Olympics and Canada’s national pride (hockey) this morning. In particular they’re discussing “where were you” in regards to Crosby’s goal… As if it has that scale of importance to Canadians in general (and not just hockey fans). It strikes me that whatever its import to hockey or the Olympics, the Crosby goal has nowhere near the import of the Henderson goal.
I’m certainly not the person to comment on the importance of the goals to hockey fans. While I can offer my opinion on virtually anything, I have nowhere near the devotion required of a fan. I understand hockey (I’m Canadian), I can follow a non-glowing puck (I’m Canadian), and I can even appreciate good hockey (I’m Canadian), but I don’t quite have the severe form of the national obsession that seems to be common. It might be that the NHL version of hockey is broken in several ways, but that might also be an excuse.
I do enjoy the Olympic hockey, so why am I arguing that isn’t a Henderson or (for that matter) a Kennedy level event? It’s not the hockey, it’s the social scale of the event. The Canadian Olympics in general and the men’s hockey in particular were great … great fun, great times, great sport but not great deep meaning. Canada had a good time at its Olympics. It appeared that the world also had a great time at Canada’s Olympics. But the world didn’t change. Canada didn’t even change.
A “where were you” moment is more than a moment of national import — it’s a moment of international import. Henderson, Kennedy, the Berlin Wall, etc. Henderson isn’t important because of the goal, it was the whole cold war — it was even Canada stepping in to fight the good fight (normally championed by the US). Kennedy isn’t just significant for the assassination — it was where and what he stood for and the hopes of the nation and the world on his shoulders. Similarly, the Berlin wall… is such a large and nuanced story, it’s hard to sum up.
I was only (almost) two years old. If I was in front of a television, I don’t remember it. Interestingly, Henderson is not yet in the Hockey hall of fame. It’s said that his skill and stats don’t generally warrant it. But it’s not about the hockey.