After a fun day of snow and good food in the mountains of Southern California, I returned to my home to an extremely weak television schedule. Looking through the potential options for my viewing pleasure on the DirecTV guide, I determined that there were two programs worth watching: professional wrestling and womens Olympic hockey. After about 30 seconds of intense thought (not really), I determined professional wrestling was going to be a worse background activity for internet surfing than womens hockey. The verdict: the television was set to womens Olympic hockey on CNBC (channel 355).
The game, for the most part, took a distant second place to searching for fishing tackle boxes on eBay and Amazon, planting crops on my Farmville farm, and replying to email. Only until I noticed the score was Canada 7, Slovakia 0, did I actually notice what was actually going on. I then noticed that the game was in the second period. I then noticed minutes later that the score had reached double-digits. I then noticed that there were just over five minutes left in the game and the score did not stop going up. I was more-or-less fine with this because it was a secondary concern of mine (if that at all). I found a fishing tackle box. I planted roses on my Farmville farm. I replied to all my emails.
Things changed, however, when I noticed that there were 15 seconds left in the game and Canada beating Slovakia by a resounding 18-0 scoreline. The score itself was not really the issue. Something every athlete goes through in his or her lifetime is a thorough butt whipping whether it is a hockey rink, baseball field, or basketball court. I used to play Little League baseball when I was a youngster, and in one game, successfully pitched myself into the jam of all jams by giving up 19 runs (without getting any outs). Everyone wins, and everyone loses.
Like I said, this hockey game was different. 15 seconds left in the game. Canada is beating Slovakia 18-0. Canada is still trying to score. That is the problem. Winning is a fantastic feeling. Experiencing triumph with friends, family, and your coaches is a great feeling. There is also that other thing, however, called running up the score.
What exactly is running up the score? In every experience I have had as an athlete or spectator, running up the score means “trying to score more goals or points even if the other team has no possible chance of winning.” That is my definition and I am sticking to it. I am sure (mostly sure) that most people would agree with my definition.
I−like many out there in this big world−like to win. We play poker, video games, board games, and road-trip trivia. Everyone likes to be the winner. I have always agreed with what Vince Lombardi had to say about winning: “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” This is most certainly true. Most of the things we engage in on a daily basis are merely different types of competition. We race and we argue. We fight. My suit is much nicer than his. My purse is nicer than hers. Competition is certainly not new to anyone. That is okay. It is a part of our lives.
In sport, however, and especially in forum like the Olympics, there is a way to win. There is a way to win with class. With dignity. With honor. We all understand that for every competition that takes place in Vancouver this month, there must be a winner and a loser. That is the nature of things. Beating your opponent senseless and then keeping up the barrage? Just plain ridiculous. In reality, the game was over five minutes into the first period. I am sure the Canadian team knew it was going to coast to victory. The Slovakian team might have known the game was going to be a lost cause before the first drop of the puck, but it surely did not stop them from giving an admirable effort. Nonetheless, there comes a point where each team realizes how the competition is going to turn out.
To my knowledge, the Canadian womens hockey team set every or most of the single-game Olympic records with tonight’s game (most goals by a single player, largest winning margin, etc.). Good for them. They also displayed−at least to me−what kind of individuals they truly are. You can win without simultaneously shoving it down the other team’s throats. You can win with class.
It might have been a background activity; a secondary concern, but I ending up watching Canada absolutely destroy Slovakia on the ice today. Yes, they won the game 18-0, but they lost a whole lot more than they won.