Monday, March 01, 2010

A man cannot serve two masters...or root for two teams.

Yesterday was a day of mixed allegiances. I went to morning church so I could watch the Gold Medal Hockey team. I cheered for both teams, secretly hoping for Canada to win.

I am a realist, and a traitor. Realistic in that I knew the game would go past the 5 o'clock start of my church. Realistic in that I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted the other team, the one not called Team USA, to win.

How do we sort out this life? I went to morning church, at a quiet Presbyterian church that I have "a crush" on. Since I'm often tired of my own church, with the people ten to twenty years younger than me, all the babies, all the new was nice to go to a place where people sat in pews, not chairs, and not everyone sat together, and the music was nice and predictable and I was able to worship because it was familiar. (I often think that our pastors experiment too much.) They had a honest to goodness coffee hour, instead of a "take down the chairs" half hour. People stood around and talked, and some people figured out I was a stranger and talked to me. Does loving W church mean I love the Open Door less? I am invested at the OD, I do visuals once every 5th or 6th Sunday. There are people there that I have relationships with, some going back more than the five years we've been a church. But I tire of it. I guess we all tire of home at some time, that's why we have to go on vacation? So was going to W church a vacation? And like the beaches, the warm air that we know we can't take home, I was tapping into some parts of the service that I miss?

And, by liking W church, was I cheating on the Open Door? Which leads right into why I went to morning church--USA vs. Canada in Olympic hockey. Now, as sports go, I am a Penguins fan first. I did not grow up thinking that the US was a hockey powerhouse, and while I want the American skaters to win, I also want the best skaters to win. So I cheered for Kim Yu-Na, who was amazing and graceful in both the short and free programs in figure skating.

So...if I don't expect USA to be a hockey powerhouse, and it was the miracle of the goalie, Ryan Miller, that got the US team to the Gold medal game, and I am a Penguins fan first, well...I have to say, those things said, I felt a little bit like Benedict Arnold. Traitor. How could I root for the Canadians? But I didn't know the Americans. The Canadian team was full of names I recognized, and two that I loved. Eric Staal, Marc Andre Fleury, and yes, Sidney "Sid the Kid" Crosby. So, faced with rooting for players I didn't know and love vs. rooting for players I did know and love? I was rooting for Canada. But, not outwardly. So it was the most boring hockey game I'd ever watched, because I didn't care who won. When we went to overtime, I flipped a coin and determined that for the OT I would root for the US team. And I did. But when Crosby got that goal, I was dancing in my seat. I could not have been prouder of the 22-year-old Canadian who has skated his way into my heart.

Does that make me a bad person? To some, it does. On FaceBook, a college classmate came out and said that she was rooting for the Canadians. And she was reprimanded again and again, in the comments. I said, hey, you're still fine in my boat, and I'm secretly hoping for O Canada to be sung at the end of the game. Then I sunk my boat. I said, "It's not as if we're playing Russia." To which another friend of my friend (but a stranger to me) wrote, SL, move north, and if we were playing Russia, I'd root for them because of Ovechkin, (the Russian player for the Washington Capitols who has captured so many hearts in and outside of the Beltway.) Which to me pointed out the irony--it was not okay for T to root for Canada, outright, but this person would root for Russia because of Ovechkin, which is essentially why I was rooting for Canada.

Confused yet?

It's easy for me to say, "buck up, it's just a game." I am not a Japanese skater who lives and breathes the rivalry between the countries of Korea and Japan. I am not an American skater who against all odds got to the medal game and lost to the captain of the reigning Stanley Cup team, lost again to Canada, as we have in games before. There are roots that go deeper than one game, or even as many games as it takes to get to the Gold Medal game.

I like a church with a coffee hour. I like a church with a small vocal ensemble. I like sermons that tell a story, so beautifully written that I can't take notes, but the images stay in my head for days after. We are a collection of our experiences, of our childhood memories. And my childhood memory is of coffee hour. My childhood memory is not of hockey--I only became a fan in 1997, and it was automatically the Penguin nation that I adhered to, not the American city where it's played, the American country where it resides.

I grew up all over. I rooted for Honduras in the World Cup in 1982. My personality is not one of severe traditional jealousy for the home team. What is the home team? If you were to take it literally, my home team would be the Washington Capitols. But I wasn't a hockey fan when I lived in the DC area as a teen. And there is a strange phenomenon in geographic allegiance: once a Pittsburgher, always a Pittsburgher. If you've lived here long enough to pass the Pittsburghese quiz, use a parking chair in a major snowstorm, see the Pens go for the Stanley Cup and win, see the Steelers go for the Heisman trophy and win, you may move, but Pittsburgh will always be a part of you. I bleed black and gold.

I don't know. This is convoluted thinking that I'm not going to try to fully sort out here.

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