Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Volleying the ball with Campbell

Weekend road trip is all business

Saving our national pastime

Millenium Moment

Saving our national pastime

The line has been drawn and the real question remaining is where does the country stand on the federal government's recent announcement to give financial aid to Canadian teams in the National Hockey League?

It's really a lose/lose situation when you break it down – without funding, you can pretty much say buh-bye to the Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames who are all financially strapped NHL teams.

On the other hand, the promised 2 to 3 million dollars, or 25 per cent government contribution, is a sum of money which could easily be spent more responsibly on Canada's fledging health care program, or growing elitist education system.

What's a government to do?

Does the killing of our country's national pastime have more pull over the seeming death of our social programs? Which is more important when dealing in terms of Canadian identity?

The world's impression of our native land is one which brings to mind both equality among its people in the form of an envious array of social programs and assistance, as well as the international excellence and dominance of one of the world's most popular sports.

In our lifetime, we have seen both the Québec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets forced out of the confines of the Great White North, only to situate south of the border. Not even a supportive Jets fan base or a heated Québec rivalry could save either team from the inevitable disease of "small market" pox.

The United States and its brainwashing "Americana" capabilities has increasingly crept over the 49th parallel over the decades and it seems the only two things which remain sacredly Canadian are the two things in present danger of falling by the way-side.

The U.S. has all but turned our sport into theirs and to believe that they care about the crippled state of our six remaining teams is to be sadly mistaken. This is the same bordering country which believes Canadians live in igloos and drive dog sleds.

A lot has been said about the government's announcement as being one made with a national heart more than a national head. I disagree and think, as Canadians, we need to desperately hang on to all those things which haven't yet been eroded by the red, white and blue.

If it means all governments collectively helping out hockey at the professional level in order to ensure these teams will be around for years to come – then that's what needs to be done. How else is this country going to compete considering the discrepancies in population-base and dollar differences?

What it comes down to is holding onto one of the last purely Canadian entities, a sport which has brought this country pride and celebration over the last century. A game played long before it was ever a business.

O Hockey – I stand on guard for thee.

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