In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Gold medal celebration

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.


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  1. Jessica

    I was thinking the same thing! In fact, CTV actually used the Montgomery beer-guzzling footage as one of its possible “Best Canadian Moments” that viewers could vote on. Holy double standard, Batman!

    PS – Didn’t your spellcheck pick up on “champaign”? 🙂

    • Rick

      Neither spell check caught it … probably because of the city in Illinois! I’ve fixed it. Thanks for the note.

  2. Jonathan

    I’m not sure there is a double standard since I’m pretty sure Montgomery is old enough to drink.

    The one thing I wondered about was that he was drinking in public. I don’t know what the rules are in BC, but here in ON we get a fine if we do what he did. It would appear that many a blind eye was turned to the drinking shenanigans of general populace during the many celebrations in the streets (and it seems the women/girls on the ice). While we are on the subject of corrections… women plural please:

    A half-hour after the game ended, the woman came back to the ice and continued their celebration.

    • Rick

      They each broke the rules … drinking in public, and drinking under the legal age. The one woman who is under the legal age is of legal drinking age in her home province, but not in BC. That’s no excuse. They women’s hockey team broke a rule and so did Montgomery. They just weren’t the same rules.

      But I think the biggest outcry wasn’t about rules at all. It was because they’re held up as role models and they were all doing things unbecoming of role models. That’s where the biggest double standard comes in. The women were decried while Montgomery was cheered.

      In actuality, I think most of us would feel free to have a drink if we won a gold medal. We might not have our drink quite so openly, but I doubt we’d run home and hide in the basement to do it!

      Thanks for your correction. I fixed the typo.

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