Hockey players act like hockey players, world aghast
If you win an Olympic gold medal in hockey, you get to drink beer, smoke cigars, and drive the Zamboni. It's that simple. It's probably in the Canadian constitution somewhere.
Yet suddenly, people couldn't recognize a Zamboni have taken it upon themselves to chide the Canadian women's hockey team for celebrating their 2-0 Olympic gold medal victory over the U.S. on the ice--after the fans had left the arena.
Some players wearing their gold medals were chewing on them. Some were drinking champagne. Some were drinking beer or pouring it into teammates' mouths. Some were doing their drinking while smoking cigars, or reclining on the ice and kicking their feet into the air, or honking the Zamboni's horn, or even attempting to drive the ice-resurfacing vehicle.
Canadians seemed to think this was great, an appropriate response to an emotional triumph. But when a reporter asked someone from the International Olympic Committee - an organization renowned for its stuffiness - that official did not. [...]
Steve Keough, a Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) spokesman, said the celebration was "not something uncommon in Canada." [PI]
You know why Canadians thought it was great? Because we see these women as athletes, not novelty fetish items. Athletes do this sort of thing. These particular athletes had just won a gold medal in Canada's favorite sport.
They were entitled to celebrate. The woman who scored both goals, Marie-Philip Poulin, was photographed drinking a beer. Scolds feigned outrage because she's 18 and the drinking age in British Columbia is 19. A guy who scored two goals in a gold medal game would be allowed to savor a beer in peace. The hockey etiquette police are probably unaware that it's traditional to for the winning team to guzzle champagne from the Stanley Cup.
The women didn't set out to cause a scene. They'd been partying in the locker room and they were invited back out onto the ice by photographers who wanted what should have read as cliches: Victorious athletes celebrating. The New York Times blog suggests that the women were posing for personal souvenir shots and didn't even realize that an AP photographer was still in the building.
But because the winners were women, the rest of the world was scandalized by their harmless exuberance.