It must have been big news if the Globe editorialized on-Dave Keon’s return to Toronto.
It says much about hockey’s role and the role of sports in a national psyche.For many, professional sport has an alienating function, distracting citizens from the necessary task at hand of constructing the decent society. Karl Marx made some remark about this.”Pity the society that needs heroes” or something like that.
Take the case of Keon. David was always a very measured man, a private and sensitive person. In his day hockey had just burst forth from the six teams to the massive hyping and expansion years of big bucks and more TV coverage.There were beat reporters but also there was some societal control over the manufacturing of images. As the economy expanded and advertising budgets advanced seven times faster than national budgets, sport took on greater meaning.It was almost invested with an aura of myth where our heroes served as surrogates for ourselves and our loss of agency in society. In highly stratified societies like England, soccer and the local team gave working folks a respite from their circumscribed predictable lives. Death and resurrection every saturday at the local stadium.
Often in poor countries and with workers who see no way out, a transference takes place, hence the near deification of people like Pele in dirt poor Brazil. Hockey is our closest equivalent. As cowboy capitalism exacerbated the gap between rich and poor, people needed to invest emotional energies in warriors outside of themselves.They battled in increasingly bigger arenas—as did rock stars—who often pretended to be taking on society but lived as millionaires. In many ways, as organized religion waned , as the power of the print stories of good and evil —Moses and Pharaoh, Jesus and the Empire lost power, media, much more sexy and powerful, threw up new mythical heroes—sports stars,rockers and celluloid personalities. Religion sometimes fell into this with grand papal visits, almost orchestrated like rock tours. In the end all this can not deliver. It’s a bit like Chinese food.Three hours later you’re still hungry. You may need a bigger fix.So caffeine gets you through the day, then nicotine, alcohol and drugs. Or Brad and Angelina.
As globalization advanced many people felt ahis loss of personal control. Forces bigger than them seemed to dominate life.Hence the need for release and the incessant desire for “celebrity” news and heroes on the horizontal level. What we seek of course is real transcendent meaning…Rambo, Rocky, Madonna, Posh and Becks can’t bring it to us. The worst example was the shocking outpouring over Diana’s death.
Keon from the small town of Rouyn Noranda always had a hard time with this. Most of the hockey players I knew were small town guys from good homes. They almost never did the star turn. Keon was like that—and is like that. He is quite comfortable around his old high school friends but on the national stage it is another story. Watching him being interviewed it was like watching a kid at the dentist.Painful.
In the end, Keon who has had his issues with the Leafs, described the weekend as “just a weekend.Nice and let’s leave it at that.” But Dave we’ve been 40 years in the hockey desert and you were our Moses. Talk to us. Give us the word. What the fans were looking forward to was “somebody who felt their pain” and “reciprocated their devotion” somebody like Bill Clinton. But they were looking for love in the wrong places if they thought Davey was their man.All those 30 year old jocks with their Leaf sweaters were doomed.
Maybe he’s a Marxist. Who knows.Or maybe he’s still the small town guy from Rouyn Noranda who wonders what the fuss is about. I kind of like that.
But why is Britney Spears cutting her hair?