30 September 2016

World Cup? Not even close...

The World Cup of Hockey.
The very name evokes a global notion of sports competition and supremacy; And while I always cheer for Canada to do well on the world stage, this time feels a little hollow. The sport of hockey is almost exclusively dominated, in the last 10 years an6way, by the red and white of my home country and while it is good to win the game we claim to have invented, what is it we are winning? The talent gap is so large that this made for T.V., Toronto centric tournament had to cobble together two teams who have no host nation to call their own. The under 24 North American team was exciting and the Europeans have become the sacrificial lamb in the Gold Medal final with Canada, but how can we call it a world cup when we are unable to even ice 8 national teams that could be competitive. Outside of the Big 6 (Canada, Russia, USA, Finland, Sweden and the Czechs), no country can claim to have a chance of winning or even competing at this level.
Contrast that with the mind boggling, years long journey the 32 teams that make up the only real World Cup go through. Football (soccer for the North Americans) provides so much drama just to get out of the group stage and while its bloated bureaucracy and corruption threaten it long term strategies, the game itself is the true world sport and its champion can claim a legacy of winning its way to the top.
Contrast this with the ongoing World Cup of Hockey. The teams in the tournament do not earn their way in, some are made up and all are forced to play under NHL, not international rules. I am most assuredly not a Soccer fan, but I am fairly certain the rules don't change at the games highest championship. We dominate but it feels somehow less.
The Olympics, combined with the World Senior and Junior Championships are probably a better reflection of the game but it is still controlled by the same 6 teams and to be brutally honest, only Slovakia (in 2002) has broken that domination in over a century. How can we continue to get excited about being the best of 6 countries in anything. I love the gold medal feeling but this tournament is mislabelled and that could be a proper start to its legitimacy.
Bring back the true name of this tournament, The Canada Cup.
We are hockey and until someone can figure out how to level the playing field that will only change if someone gets very lucky. When we line up best on best, no one comes close to staying with us. Calling it the Canada Cup would once again serve notice that we bring the standard that other nations chase when it comes to the rink and despite their success and excitement, ditch the phony teams and let nations play their way in for the last 2 spots. It is Canada's game and I think it could be better if we bring back the original  name of the trophy and challenge the world to come and try to take it from us. It won't fix the gigantic talent gap or dwindling popularity of my favourite sport, but at least it will better reflect what this tournament should properly represent.
Just my two cents. 
Go Canada!

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