International Hockey, 1972 and 2014

I was 12 years old in September of 1972. I remember the 28th day of the month, Junior High School for me, but no school work was done that day. Canada had won three games in the international hockey Summit Series against the USSR, a union of soviet socialist states anchored by the republic of Russia. The soviets had won three games and one game had been tied. The winner of this game took the 8 game series. This happened at the height of the Cold War. The USSR was viewed as a serious threat to Canada’s way of life; and the USSR and the USA had sufficient nuclear weapons to obliterate the earth many times over. So, a great deal of patriotic pride was riding on this game. The school, with a total population of about 250 students had 4 televisions. I remember being in a room with about 50 students and teachers huddled around one of these TVs. The series ended, as most Canadians know, with a goal scored by Paul Henderson in the last minute of the game (34 seconds remaining) to end a 5-5 tie. It was, and continues to be, a great moment of Canadian pride.

Since then, Canada has enjoyed much success on the international hockey stage and the way we watch these competitions has changed dramatically. On Friday, when Canada took on the USA in the Olympic semi-final match, I watched it with one other person at the laptop in my office. In other parts of the building people were watching it by themselves on computers or smart-phones. Work production definitely took a dip during that game but it was different than the 1972 series. Now, technology allows us to attempt to do some work while we watch the game. Now, we are much more apt to watch a game alone or with just a few people. We have so many more devices on which we can watch the game. We still have televisions but we also have phones, tablet computers, laptops, desktops, digital PVR, and internet television systems.

Tomorrow the Canadian men will play for the gold medal against Sweden. The game starts at 7:00 am EST, 5:00 am MST, and 4:00 am PST, and people will be awake in each of these time zones watching the game. Some will gather in public places like bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. (The province of Alberta has created a special allowance for bars to open and serve alcoholic beverages at 5:00 am.) Others will gather with family or friends in their homes. The mood will be one of anticipation, much like the mood on September 28, 1972, the outcome is unknown, but the technology will unquestionably be different.

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