The Olympic Games have a leitmotif of peace. In ancient times, they brought with them a holy truce of Greek cities. All wars were supposed to cease while the games were carried out. The same spirit should today bring together athletes from around the world as we celebrate our humanity.
However, the US hockey team apparently saw the recent winter Olympic Games as a chance to promote its country’s military goals. Driven by a group called Operation Homefront, each player on the team was paired with a wounded veteran in order, according to one of the organizers, ‘to help the players understand they're not playing for the Stanley Cup, but their country’. We all sympathize with the young men and women who have been wounded, but nor should their suffering be exploited and ultimately tarnish the ideal of the Olympics by trying to use it is a celebration of American militarism.
There were reports of US players displaying militarist slogans on their uniforms. Backup goalie Jonathan Quick had ‘support our troops’ written on his helmet. According to the US team’s general manager, Brian Burke: ‘The real heroes in America don't wear hockey uniforms, they wear police uniforms, they wear camo, they wear fire uniforms, and we want our players to understand that what we do is small potatoes compared to what those people do.’ One of the team’s forwards, Dustin Brown, was quoted as follows: ‘We realize that our soldiers always have to go over into foreign soil and get the job done and they always do. That is kind of our theme. We are on foreign soil and we have to get the job done.’
It is a perversion of the Olympic ideal to use it for such chauvinistic purposes. Brown should be told that he was not on Canadian soil ‘to get the job done’ but because he was invited. The US team was defeated in yesterday’s final of the Olympic Games, by Canadian players, whose ambitions are more modest but who play beautiful hockey.