Sunday, February 12, 2006

Not the Way it Should Be Played

16-0.

That's the humiliating score Canada posted over Italy in the first round of Women's Ice Hockey at Torino 2006. And I say "humiliating" not from the perspective of the Italians, but from that of hockey in general.

No team should lose a hockey game by 16 goals.

Fine, the Italian team wasn't as good as Canada... That was expected. In all fairness, this year's Women's Ice Hockey is being called a "two-team tournament" because of the dominance of Canada and the U.S. Okay, so we can pretty much bank on those two teams facing each other for the gold... But we still have to play the tournament and get past all of the other teams who have put so much time and effort (not to mention blood, sweat, and tears) to get to the Olympics.

But do we really need to crush them? To flaunt in their faces how much better we are than them? To make them feel as if they wasted their time in showing up?

Sadly, yes.

The Olympic Ice Hockey rules dictate that the team with the most goals in the tournament will have Home Ice Advantage in the Gold Medal game. This means that Canada and the U.S. (who are assuming they will be facing each other) are not only playing each game of the tournament to win, but also to stack up as many goals as possible along the way. It's the most classic case of adding insult to injury.

This isn't the way hockey is normally played, and it's not the way it should be played when the world is watching. The good sportsmanship these players have had instilled in them since they first laced up their skates has been thrown out the window. Where they were previously encouraged to "let up a bit" on a team they were beating handily, they are now being told to "show no mercy". Pathetic.

Apparently, a simple coin toss to determine Home Ice is out of the question...

I'm not a hockey player, and definitely not a woman, but I'd like to apologize to the world in advance, on behalf of the Canadian and the U.S. teams for the misery they will be forced to inflict on the rest of the teams. Let's just hope the Olympic Committee realizes what a gong show they've created with this rule and that they get it sorted out before Vancouver 2010.
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