When Canada’s team lost its opening game of the World Junior hockey tournament in the Maritimes, initial reactions across the country were a kind of shock and awe. This failure seemed a horrific faux pas, an enormous letdown that tarnished Canada’s view of itself as a shining example for the world.
As a child and prairie boy, I LOVED hockey. For me and for thousands of youngsters like me, playing hockey was the joy of our now rapidly disappearing winters. And Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights was as regular as Sunday morning church. Hockey can be nearly incomparably exciting and dramatic. But can we actually argue that banging a piece of rubber around a rink is all that important? Really?
As players directly, and fans vicariously, we might enjoy “belonging” to a team as part of a community. We esteem and admire talented players, appreciate the strategic planning that helps lead to winning, and recognize the beauty of perfectly executed athletic performance. Consider the relief and joy we’ll feel if and/or when our junior heroes elevate our country into the leadership of the pantheon of hockey gods! Perhaps they already have.
OK, I jest. If watching our boys win is pleasing, it hardly represents the satisfaction of a critical need. Sorry. However much fun hockey is, it’s not that important. It’s more likely that distracting ourselves with such fabulist concerns as ice hockey may relieve some of the real pressure and concern we should be feeling about more pressing issues.
Compare our national obsession with our juniors’ hockey performance to our ho-hum attitude to our country’s efforts addressing climate change. We generally hope and expect our hockey team will either win the tournament or at least finish in the top four. Do we know, or care, how our country is performing with regard to climate?
The Climate Change Performance Index uses a standardized framework to compare the climate performance of 59 countries and the European Union. Together these nations are responsible for 92 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. A country with a high rating is generally doing all it can to lower GHG [greenhouse gas emissions] lower or eliminate unnecessary energy use, expand production of renewable energy, and develop policies that encourage and even directly do these things.
Can we compete to do better? I’m not sure whether or not anyone behind the CCPI has considered doing a playoff tournament, best of seven—sudden death playoff, but as it stands, Canada is so far behind you have to wonder what kind of team we’re running! By CCPI standards, not a good one.
To provide perspective, India is in 8th place, Latvia is 25th, Viet Nam 40th. Canada is 58th. That’s right. 58th!
Now given that we’re speeding our way toward destroying the world we need for survival, it’s oddly ironic that we don’t take the climate problem at least as seriously as hockey.
The recent satiric film Don’t Look Up presents a bitterly hilarious story of how the world failed to respond adequately to a fictional global threat, resulting in, wait for the joke, the obliteration of civilization. Oh, well, the population probably enjoyed Netflix and professional sports right up until the end.
Ice hockey? Climate? Perhaps it’s time we began applying our national pride to something that’s actually important.