World Juniors Hockey: Canada-centric spectacle

Hardly surprising, but everywhere I turn today DA HORROR!! I love hockey. I have the misfortune of being a Leafs fan. I also have turned my son into a Leafs fan (please don’t call Children’s Aid). Hockey is the best team sport in the world, no other exercise necessitates such a hive mentality to succeed. Beautiful, fast, brutal, a million adjectives, just a great game, sport at its finest. 

At the risk of enraging already fragile emotions, I’d like to posit my thesis, namely that the World Juniors, sanctioned by the IIHF, are an inherently unfair institution, systematically setting Canada up to succeed, betraying all other countries who deserve equal opportunity. TSN has done a masterful job turning a previously little know tournament into a cash cow that fills the coffers of the IIHF. Because of the economics, Canada, and more importantly Canadians with money to burn, have become THE only consideration in this amateur exercise.

Pretend for a moment you aren’t Canadian, then digest the following. What if I told you that in the past seven years, this tournament has been held in Canadian friendly terrority FIVE times? Then consider next year it will be held in Calgary/Edmonton, with plans to have Canada host every other year after that. In the last seven years, it has been held in two American locations, North Dakoka and Buffalo, both of which strategically chosen so they can capitalize on Canadians flooding the border. You see, outside of Canada, nobody really cares about this tournament, no where near the attention, the stature, the fixation- we cheer mostly alone to be honest. This reality explains why a big semi-final match between Canada and the USA IN the USA was 95% pro-Canada. The IIHF knows what butters the bread, Canadians watch, Canadians pay big bucks to view, Canadians drive this entire tournament.

Is it really fair to other countries that they must endure a decided disadvantage, on an almost yearly basis? Does this never ending home field advantage Canada enjoys really speak to the notion of amateur athletics, fairness, equal opportunity? An odd time to raise the issue, given we lost yesterday, but nonetheless, Canada has an ace every year that other countries can only dream of. 

I watched the final, but I admit I’ve soured on the tournament over the years as it has become a hyped up, Canada-centric spectacle. I wonder just how good we really are, do we make the finals every year because of the advantages we enjoy? Valid question, because the athletics are subsidized by the economic angle.

Today, we all wonder what went wrong. I wonder how much worse the result if not for the built in advantage, making this whole tournament a bit of a "homer" joke to be honest.

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