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A Great Celebration

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Chris Noth, May/June 2010

You probably have seen the pictures-after the Canadian women's hockey team defeated the U.S. team in the Olympic gold-medal match in Vancouver in February, they came back out on the ice to celebrate with Champagne and cigars. From the reaction of the International Olympic Committee, you'd think they had committed a felony. Let us give our point of view: WE LOVE THESE WOMEN.

But you have to ask what the world is coming to when athletes celebrating a great victory can't let their hair down a little bit. They didn't get drunk. They didn't take their clothes off. They merely let the moment carry them away and they celebrated their victory in a way that everyone except the prudes and the IOC seemed to understand.

Contrast their exuberance with the behavior of the Russian men's figure skater, Evgeni Plushenko, who accepted a platinum medal from a Russian commentator who said he was the real champion. Plushenko then proceeded to denigrate his American opponent, Evan Lysacek. He suggested Lysacek didn't deserve the gold medal because he had not completed a quadruple jump. So, the IOC is okay with someone who disses the Olympics, the judges and his opponents, but they can't accept a little celebration from a women's hockey team?

Celebration and sport is one of the most time-honored of traditions. There's Champagne and cigars in almost every locker room of the National Basketball Association champions, Major League Baseball World Series victors and National Football League Super Bowl winners. One rap on the Canadians was that they weren't all of age: don't look too closely, but often in NBA and MLB locker rooms not every one is 21 either. It's not about breaking the law anyway, it is about recognizing achievement and victory.

The puritanical types out there in the world just seem to revert to the same tired, old arguments about role models and health messages every time some public figure has a glass of alcohol or any form of tobacco in their hands. The worst part is that this affliction of righteousness seems to be spreading all over the world, not just in America.

What about the other positive messages that a celebration sends. For instance, that hard work and dedication and teamwork lead to great accomplishment. That the camaraderie of a team trumps almost every other element on the fields of competition. That individual excellence can be integrated into a team to produce an outcome greater than the sum of its parts.

We can only say again that we love those Canadian women, even though they did beat a very talented U.S. squad. It was what the Olympics are all about-great performances under pressure. And, they should be congratulated for showing the world that they were thrilled with their victory.

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