You may have heard — in Pittsburgh last night, the hometown hero was anything but. Sidney Crosby, dagger driver into the hockey heart of America this past Sunday, was accorded a villian’s welcome at Mellon Arena before the Penguins’ 3-2 victory over Buffalo. Ryan Miller, meanwhile, the visiting goaltender, was showered with cheers.
Suddenly I want to grow a mullet, and dates girls with tattoos! Patriotism is alive and well in Pittsburgh. And how!
This is beyond amazing. For one thing, it’s highly suggestive to me that something extraordinary, something culturally distinctive, indeed happened to hockey with the Vancouver Games. Part of the aura of the Miracle on Ice 30 years ago was the cultural backdrop against which Herb Brooks’ college kids fashioned their heroism: rampant and spirit-sapping American malaise. I wonder, given the increasing angst that’s being acknowledged across the country today, and which is manifesting itself in sporadic bursts of electoral outrage, if something akin to ’80 isn’t already in place?
Did a highly unheralded band of hockey players, led by an afterthought of a head coach, shoulder aside the sport’s giant on its home ice once in Vancouver and then nearly do it again in the title game, and in the process inspire and wonderfully distract a beleaguered nation? The television viewership numbers certainly suggest so.
And, did Pittsburgh, a town that’s been economically depressed — ravaged, really — and attempting (with some success) to re-engineer itself out of tough times, take none too kindly to the outcome?
It’s unassailable: at its most basic, Tuesday night was an adverse reaction by a home crowd against its Cup deliverer!
Well, leave it to Big Media in Steeltown to have none of it. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went foaming at the mouth at the reception for Sid.
“Many fans actually booed Sidney Crosby when he was acknowledged. Wow. Way to be xenophobic Pittsburgh.”
“Xenophobic”? Really? At least there’s no precedent among any big city American newspapers for rashly and reflexively labeling racist motives upon behavior or actions with which they disagreed.
Very hypothetically speaking — because it would require the Russians to be able to actually defend their own end — were Alexander Ovechkin to have scored an overtime strike against Team USA in a gold medal game, can you imagine the Red Army back in Verizon Center turning on him? I can’t. And consider that Verizon Center is home to no irregular display of nationalistic sensibilities — most regularly with most home games when men and women wearing our nation’s uniform are introduced and acknowledged for their heroism.
The difference may well be that while Sidney Crosby is very well appreciated in Pittsburgh, Ovi is absolutely adored in D.C.
Then again, we are in very troubled times, and hockey heroics from the guys wearing our colors have demonstrated a gluing effect on this nation in times of strife.
Incidentally, yesterday also brought word of Sidney Crosby’s appearance on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated. Think the jinx is alive and well?