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LETTER: It wasn’t the silver medal that let us down in Olympic hockey game

‘It isn’t whether you win or lose – it’s how you play the game.’

The Editor,

When our Olympic women’s hockey team began sobbing, so did I.

Not because the U.S. took gold, but because our gals were so invested in grabbing the top prize that it was like a tsunami hit them when they lost. Their fury and grief was horrible to watch.

How did we get to a place where we’re so driven to be better than somebody else that we’re destroyed when we aren’t?

I’ve long opposed the Olympics, mostly because the money could be better spent, but also because I’ve seen what striving to be the best can do to people.

Rioting at sporting events, tantrums on tennis courts, screaming parents and broken children, mental health sacrificed to the God of the Game.

See also: OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Women’s ice hockey team loses first Olympic game in 20 years

Before vilifying Team Canada hockey player Jocelyn Larocque for refusing to wear her silver medal, we might ask ourselves how her attitude came to exist.

Decades ago, my sister and I were multi-sport athletes winning championships at local, provincial and national levels. We lost some, too.

Linda is a Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. I was High School Athlete of the Year. When defeated, we never felt the devastation and bitterness I saw in our hockey team.

Maybe we were lucky. Our father was a top-notch coach of girls’ softball and his absolute rule was: “It isn’t whether you win or lose – it’s how you play the game.”

Dad never made a player feel bad when they fumbled a ball and he didn’t let anyone else berate them. Poor sportsmanship got a player benched, sometimes for more than one game. They rarely repeated the offence.

Disappointment is part of living and in the right hands, competition can teach kids to do their best and to accept defeat graciously, without shame or dishonour. It can show them how to set aside egos to prize mutual respect above medals. In the wrong hands, it can foster hate for self and others, and we don’t want to go there.

I was delighted for the Americans. They struggled 20 years for it! Canada has four consecutive gold medals in women’s hockey. How many do we need?

Coach Schuler explained it this way: “You feel like you’ve let a country down.”

She’s right. Team Canada did let me down. But not by winning silver.

Maureen Kerr, Surrey

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