Country or Crosby?

You may know that in a previous life I was a sports anchor here at WTAE and have always enjoyed the sports we are so passionate about as western Pennsylvanians. Like many of you in this sports-crazed ( or should I say “hockey-crazed” ) town, I watched the gold medal game of mens olympic hockey between the U.S. and Canada.

While my heart said U.S., my head said Canada was not going to lose to the same team twice on home ice in a week. What I didn’t expect was for the game to go to overtime and for Canada to win the game – on a Sidney Crosby goal.

While Crosby scoring may not hold much significance to the lower 48, it hits Pittsburgh in a very different way. Crosby maybe the most popular athlete in the city of Pittsburgh and walks on water after bringing Lord Stanley back to the Burgh. He’s a gentleman, a consummate pro and mature beyond his years … and he belongs to Pittsburgh. Well, at least that is what we thought.

I was curious to see what Pittsburghers thought of this development – having the home country lose to Canada and having one of our heroes score the decisive goal. As usual, I turned to my friends in Facebook nation. The simple question: “The U.S. falls, but Crosby scores. What do you think?”.

Sidney Crosby celebrates his game-winner in the Gold Medal game against Team USA. A goal that tested the loyalties of Pittsburgh hockey fans. ( AP Photo )

hat was less than two hours ago. As of this writing, I have gotten 83 responses ranging from those happy for Sidney Crosby to those who says his scoring the decisive goal against the USA bordering on treason. It was about 50-50 with half the respondents saying how happy they were for their favorite Penguin and how if the USA had to lose, it might as well be Sidney scoring the game-winner. Others were ready to “boo” Crosby the minute he returns to Igloo ice.

What the heated debate told me is something we have always known: Whether its hockey or horseshoes, we love our country and we will always pull for America no matter what. When these games started, most Americans didn’t think the USA had a chance in these games but as the competition went on, the team kept winning. By today’s goal medal game, American pride was at an all-time high and Canada, our neighbor, became our enemy for 60 minutes today.

Sidney Crosby was caught in the middle. While he is a Pittsburgh Penguins, his loyalties lie with his homeland … as they should … and perhaps he felt more pressure in these games than during any Stanley Cup contest.

Sports are great. They can make great friends bitter rivals depending on what uniform they are wearing. Such was the scene today. But sports also allow us to have our moment of disagreement and then pick up where we left off. That’s what the Pens will do when the season starts on Tuesday. Olympic success will be recognized before Tuesday’s game when I’m sure Sid, Brooks Orpik and even visiting goalie Ryan Miller will be applauded for thier Olympic success. Then, country will be forgotten and the quest will begin for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

A prize that – for those who skate in the NHL – will be as good as gold.

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