A few weeks ago, my eight-year-old daughter asked, “What religion are we, Daddy?” I just about choked on the final dregs of my beer I was quaffing at the time, and I took a moment before answering. I began to speak, but no real audible words came out. I was raised Catholic, but my wife was never indoctrinated into any form of religion. (Being of British descent, I would hazard a guess at Protestant — but even after 10 years of marriage, I still didn’t know!)
As my daughter stood there, smiling expectantly in front of the television blocking my view of the hockey game, the answer came to me in a flash — I swept her up in my arms, gave her a kiss on the cheek, sat her in my lap and told her, “Our religion is Hockey. We’re…Hockeysians….”
“What?” she blurted, in a bewildered, incredulous way, as if I had just performed a stupid but passable magic trick. My daughter rolled her eyes at me and stomped off, like always, shaking her head and muttering to herself.
I was raised going to Sunday School, receiving the Eucharist and attending Midnight Mass every Christmas (the choir was always awesome). Since the age of 13 I haven’t given my religious leanings a second thought, because for the longest time I didn’t think I had any. I have completely turned away from anything that even remotely resembles organized religion because I believe it’s all an elaborate sham. I don’t believe in God of any sort, and I certainly don’t buy into any folklore regarding flora spontaneously combusting or anybody rising from the grave.
Organized religion has always left me cold, as the most notable ones like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and the like all have checkered pasts, dealing with mind control (Confession), Holy Wars (The Crusades and anything to do with the West Bank or Golan Heights), and bizarre, outdated dietary restrictions. Even Buddhism has its drawbacks, as I understand that the pursuit of Enlightenment is key, but can never truly be reached — and I just don’t want to try that hard for some ethereal goal.
I consider myself relatively intelligent, so you can imagine my amazement — and perhaps my exasperation — as I realized that Hockey is truly the most hallowed thing in my life.
The correlations between the National Hockey League and Christianity (as I’m most familiar with Christianity) are many:
- Christ walked on water — Hockey players glide over it.
- Christianity has Prophets like John The Baptist — Hockey has Gretzky, Lemieux, and Bobby Orr etc.
- During moments of duress, Christians and Hockey fans alike pray for a favorable outcome.
- Christianity has the Holy Grail and other religious artifacts — Hockey has the Stanley Cup.
- Christianity has zealots like Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham — Hockey has Don Cherry.
- Christianity has (sacred) wine — Hockey has (I’ll have another) beer.
- Christianity has an Old and New Testament — Hockey has the “Original Six”, and then expansion.
- Christianity has Confession — Hockey has the Penalty Box.
- Christianity has an elected figurehead, The Pope — Hockey has Gary Bettman.
- Christianity has The Jesuits, trying to convert people away from their natural culture and religion. Hockey has Gary Bettman.
- Christianity teaches us to be meek, and to accept our disappointments — I’m a Canucks fan.
- Christians congregate (in church) and pass a “collection” plate to raise money — Hockey has “collector”cards (and Pay-Per-View).
- Christianity has sacred holidays and a “Holy Day” every week — Hockey has Double-header Saturdays and The Playoffs.
- The most sacred Christian place is Vatican City, which is located in Italy, not the Middle East where Jesus is said to have lived — likewise, the Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto.
Even with a list of comparable attributes between Hockey and one of the world’s most followed religions, I profess that Hockey has, and maintains, a purity that Christianity can never touch: nobody kills in the name of Hockey. Sure, some idiots riot when their team loses (or even when they win) but nobody has ever been crucified, stoned to death or targeted unfairly in any way because they’re a Hockey fan.
Hockey fans love the game because of the skill it takes to play, and the fact that it’s one of the toughest contact sports around. Face it, Hockey is one of the most entertaining sports there is — has anyone really felt the same way about religion? If so, what number did they have on their jersey?
Christians believe that Christ will come again. Hockey fans know that Sidney Crosby is already here…and the next “The Next One” will eventually replace him and hopefully be drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, because it will take a miracle for them to ever win the Stanley Cup.
“Sidney Crosby Wallpaper”
“Jesus is My Coach” Catholic Shopper
“Stanley Cup” Hockey Hall of Fame