On Thursday, the Canadian women’s hockey team won gold after beating the United States in the final game. You can imagine that there was much rejoicing in the dressing room afterward. A half-hour after the game ended, the woman came back to the ice and continued their celebration.
Controversy erupted the next day because there were still some fans in the stands, including children, and the womens’ celebration included beer, Champagne, and cigars.
One issue is that some of the players were not of legal drinking age in British Columbia. Another is that some children see the women as role models and having one’s role models drink and smoke isn’t such a good thing.
Hockey Canada has apologized for the incident and the IOC will not pursue it further despite some early reports of their planning to launch an investigation.
Team Captain Hayley Wickenheiser said something in a CBC article that echoes my thoughts. She said,
it’s celebrating, it’s hockey, it’s a tradition we do. When we see a Stanley Cup winner, we see them spraying champagne all over the dressing room, you see 18-year-old kids there and nobody says a thing.
No one has ever raised a complaint about NHL players with Champagne. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of them drinking out on the ice, but they certainly have in the dressing room, with cameras present. Does it matter if it’s in the dressing room and broadcast or on the ice with some stragglers in the stands?
Jon Montgomery seems to have had an entirely different experience after winning a gold for skeleton. His medal was gold medal number four for Canada and after he left the venue, he enjoyed a cheering entourage as he walked through the streets of Whistler. One fan handed him a pitcher of beer, and he immediately took a drink. He carried it with him and continued to drink from it on the way to an interview.
Montgomery was far more public but there was no IOC comment and no apology. No only was there no controversy, but it seems he’s been invited to appear on Oprah next week.
While there were only photographs of the women, Montgomery was broadcast across the country drinking from the pitcher on CTV’s television coverage of the Vancouver games. Is this a blatant double-standard or am I missing something?
In my opinion, the women and Montgomery would’ve been circumspect to save the alcohol and tobacco for later. At the same time however, I’m willing to afford a gold medal winner a fair latitude in how they choose to celebrate. I have no problem with what Montgomery or the women did. The only thing that bothers me is how their celebrations have garnered different reactions.