Two years ago, almost to the day. There are about 10 people in my apartment and there’s anxiety. It’s the last day of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and we’ve been waiting YEARS for this day. It’s game day. As a Canadian, I can honestly say that my life stops for hockey. During the playoffs, Canucks’ jerseys are the only appropriate attire and this day was no different. Sporting my “I Raincloud Vancouver” (rather than “I Heart Vancouver”) shirt and everyone else dressed in red and white, the tension in the room is palatable. We’re down to the wire and we’re tied. We CANNOT give up the gold on home ice, and in our hometown no less! And then there’s the moment. This moment will be replayed as one of Canada’s proudest moments until the end of time. Our golden boy – our star who did absolutely NOTHING to contribute to the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team for 2010 – Sidney Crosby finds himself in the most opportunistic position and just pops that puck into the back of the USA net to win us the gold medal. There’s a YouTube video that came out just after the Olympics that year.It was taken from a boat out in False Creek and it was a view of the city.The point wasn’t to watch, it was to listen. What you would hear was the sound of the entire city erupting when that goal was scored. It was magical. More magical than Harry Potter catching his first snitch .I was part of that crowd. I was part of that eruption. I was Vancouver. Even more, I was Canada.
The concept of sports and athleticism has always fascinated me. I could never understand how people would get so wrapped up in the physical. What about all those people who are ridiculously intelligent? We don’t hold an international event every four years to celebrate MENSA, do we?
But I have to say that there is something to be said for what sport does for a community. My favourite memories of Vancouver involve hockey in some way. It’s the one thing that truly unites us. We can all put our cultural and socio-economic differences aside and be part of a team. So perhaps in the end sports do make sense. It encourages comaraderie not only amongst players, but amongst spectators alike. The rules can be taught to everyone down to lowest common denominator which is more than can be said for MENSA.
This being the case, I have made, what I think, is an interesting observation about Melbourne. There are lots of sports teams here (not the observation, Genius) – cricket, soccer, tennis, AFL, rugby – but there doesn’t seem to be that same energy as there is in Vancouver on a big game day. There doesn’t seem to be as much vested in it, but simply the enjoyment of sport itself. The appreciation of athleticism. It’s not at all bad. It’s quite remarkable, in fact. But it makes me wonder – what does bring this city together? What makes people proud to call themselves Melburnian? Or perhaps we just haven’t had a big game day yet and the best is yet to come.