Friday, February 26, 2010

Canadian Women Win Hockey Gold, Apologise to US for Celebration Gone Wrong

Last night I enjoyed the gold medal hockey game where the Canadian women won against the USA. And when I woke up this morning, the fun still seems to be going on, at least in the media.

ABC News has picked up on a post game slip-up by the Canadian team, that needed to be investigated by the IOC, and as a result of the investigation, Team Canada apologized. At the heart of the matter was Canadian player Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both goals in this game, and was caught drinking a beer after the game. Be patient, I'm coming to the scandal as soon as I can, I'm almost there. Marie-Philip is only 18 years old, and as everyone in Canada knows, it is illegal to have a beer in British Columbia unless you are 19 years of age. Unfortunately for Marie Philip, British Columbia is the actual province that was hosting the Olympics. Not Alberta, not Quebec, where it would have been OK. To make matters worse, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police neglected their law-keeping duties, and did not tase Marie Philip, or drag her away in handcuffs, which, of course what should have happened according to the laws of our land.

This story could be interpreted as the end of rule of law in Canada, if we ever had it. Or it could be interpreted as a slip-up by someone who was not exactly sure what was allowed in BC. Here is to the way this story appeared on the ABC news web site. Titled BOOZING OLYMPIC HOCKEY TEAM IN HOT WATER

"The players stormed back onto the ice half an hour after beating the United States 2-0 on Thursday and staged a raucous celebration — smoking cigars and swigging beer and bubbly.

Haley Irwin poured champagne into the mouth of Tessa Bonhomme, gold medals swinging from both their necks. Meghan Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin posed with goofy grins.

Goalies Charline Labonte and Kim St-Pierre posed at center ice for Poulin, lying on their stomachs with a giant bottle of champagne resting just above the Olympic rings.

Rebecca Johnston actually tried to commandeer the ice-resurfacing machine.

Poulin, who scored both goals for Canada, doesn't turn 19 — legal drinking age in British Columbia — until next month. The drinking age in Alberta, where the Canadian team trains, is 18. Photos showed Poulin on the ice with a beer in her hand.

Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said the antics were "not what we want to see."

"If they celebrate in the changing room, that's one thing," he said, "but not in public."

In a statement released late Thursday, Hockey Canada apologized.

Let me translate from American to Canadian

"Stormed back on to the ice"="were asked to return to the ice from their dressing room by the press to get some pictures"

"Staged a raucous celebration"="did not stop celebrating for the picture session"

"Smoking cigars"="They were smoking something that was not marijuana, a first for BC actually"

"Swigging beer"="drinking beer" (Canadian beer is something we drink, American beer is something you swig, if you can get it down at all.)

"poured champagne into the mouth"="did not pour it over her head" (In Canada we don't waste champagne)

"gold medals swinging"=??? I'm not sure about this, in the USA it could mean swinging the medals completely around their necks. In Canada it could mean swinging back and forth a little on their ribbon.

"posed with goofy grins"="posed with grins" Canadians do not think our grins look goofy.

"lying on their stomachs with a giant bottle of champagne resting just above the Olympic rings"="were lying down fully clothed with a normal celebration-sized bottle of champagne sitting on the ice near them and also somewhere near an Olympic symbol embedded under the ice surface." (i.e. no Olympic rings were desecrated in this celebration)

"actually tried to commandeer the ice-resurfacing machine"="was given the seat in the Zamboni" and furthermore, for our American cousins, a clarification is probably needed: no guns were involved. That's just how we "commandeer" things in Canada. The Zamboni was never involved in a high speed freeway chase either.

"the antics were "not what we want to see""=""If that's the case, that is not good. It is not what we want to see," (is what he actually said when an American reporter went running to tell him what was happening, and before he had a chance to investigate. The actual words used by the reporter are not known. But they may have been as overwrought as in the ABC story above.

"Not celebrating in public"="Not celebrating where US reporters can see them"

So this story if nothing else is a great lesson in how use of words can completely slant something quite innocent into a sleazy insult to the purity of the Olympics. And, in the spirit of the Olympics I am going to refrain from making any counter-allegations against the American hockey team, either the men or the women.

The Canadian team apologised for coming out of the dressing room again after the gold medal.

We should not need to apologise for living in a free country, and no apology was needed for a Canadian hockey team "celebrating in public".

Photo (used without permission!): Star-Ledger photographer Andy Mills captured 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both goals in the gold-medal game, drinking Molson Canadian beer. Star-Ledger is a US newspaper website from New Jersey.


  1. Sheesh! How mean-spirited is that?

    Personally, I'll just chalk it up to 'sour grapes' from the Americans ... 'Come on, you Americans, it's only a game!'

    On the other hand, media mean-spiritedness is not an exclusively American preserve, as commentators at RDS (RĂ©seau des sports) have demonstrated.

  2. I guess I have not been following the men's figure skating, as I knew nothing about Johnny Weir, until I started looking it up this morning.

    Facts that I found out: Weir ended up sixth in the figure skating. I believe the commentator, Alain Goldberg, started off by wondering if Weir had lost points because of his "look". I guess this implies that Goldberg thought Weir deserved a higher standing than he was awarded.

    It is pretty well accepted by everyone that Weir puts on an over-the-top gay appearance. However, Weir does not seem to "cross the line" into being offensive by US or Canadian cultural norms. I was not even able to figure out if he was really gay, or whether this behaviour was a way to poke fun at gays, or if he just loves provoking controversy. But from the pictures I saw, he is definitely pushing it. His official statement is something like he wants to be known for his sport, not his flamboyance, but he has to be true to himself.

    I only saw one reference to Alain Goldberg being gay himself. But I figured this was impossible, because if he was gay, he could not be accused of being a homophobe. (that was the official complaint made by the Quebec Gay and Lesbian group to the CRTC). Also, he may have been cut more slack in commenting that he did not like the near-comical image being projected by Johnny Weir, and that it may discourage young boys (either gay or straight or don't know yet) from wanting to compete in men's figure skating.

    Anyhow the commentators did go too far in speculating what other gender-bending boundaries remained yet to be pushed. Then they made several really stupid comments about Weir having to undergo a masculinity test. From what I understand, up to now, the only gender testing is to make sure men are not playing womens sports, not the other way round.

    I believe Goldberg has apologised to Johnny Weir for the comments. Weir actually lost by quite a wide margin, so at least it was not sour grapes. But the situation called for a formal complaint, and they got one.

    On the other hand, the hockey "scandal" was more a mean-spirited invention than a reality, and the whole thing has been dropped. (I think)