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How to Handle America’s Performance at the World Cup

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World Cup Of Hockey 2016 - Canada v United States Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As of last night America is officially unable to advance in the World Cup. This isn’t odd considering how the team was constructed (poorly), but still manages to be surprising because the brackets were arranged by the league in the hope that they would advance. Alas, it is not to be. They were too terrible. There is still a meaningless game against the Czechs tonight, but it’s over.

This tournament is already being called a low point and an embarrassment for USA hockey. That’s the dominant narrative, but I thought it would be a fun exercise to run through some of the different positions and reactions to what happened. This is a great example of how differing investments can completely change what a story looks like.

SINCERE PATRIOT

You love your country and this team. You might have reservations about some of the individual players, but are willing to stand united in red white and blue. USA hockey is do or die. ‘Meric. Enough said.

If this was you, I’m sorry, this is a very sad situation for you. Maybe go back to some happy memories of the 2013 WJC, or like, Olympic swimming? Can you bandwagon team North America? I hear this Mathews kid is pretty good?

THE POLITICAL OBJECTOR

You cannot support this team because you cannot bring yourself to cheer for America in most things. There’s all this baggage about patriotism and nationalism and exceptionalism that you don’t want to align yourself with. This flag does not stand for your, and you will not stand for this anthem. This team is bad, which doesn’t bother you, because you want someone else to win.

If this is you you’re unbothered, or possibly pleased by America’s early exit. I respect your stance.

THE CONCERNED PATRIOT

You cannot support this team because it is constructed poorly and you cannot hope for flukey success to come with what you are assured is a broken method. Leaving off offensively skilled players like Phil Kessel, Tyler Johnson, and Justin Faulk was a bad idea. Instead they brought Justin Abdelkater, and both Erik and Jack Johnson, who are bad. Playing Jonathan Quick over Corey Schneider and Ben Bishop was bad and wrong.

When John Tortorella wasn’t coaching an NHL team there was an argument that he was a good choice to lead this team because he would be able to devote all his time to it. But then the Blue Jackets hired him, and now the fact that he’s here looks simply inexcusable. Shouldn’t USA hockey be able to make better choices than Columbus? One would hope so, but apparently not. The time for John Tortorella to stop coaching has come. He is bad and it is pathetic. He can have a bright future raising money to take care of dogs and saying inflammatory things on TV without being the head coach of an hockey team. That will be a better world.

You hope that this team’s failure will bring about change. You hope for a brighter tomorrow. I hope that happens too, it would be exciting. Good luck.

THE CONFLICTED FAN OF A SPECIFIC PLAYER

You do not care about this team, but want “your guys” to be happy. Their sadness makes you sad, and worried. How will these defeat influence the team they’re coming back to, the team you actually care about? You don’t want these feelings at all. You want to get to the real hockey season already.

This is the perspective that actually got me thinking about the question of how to respond to America’s losing, when last night a friend messaged me feeling sad about Zach Parise looking very sad. There’s a compulsion to psychoanalyze our favorite players that I’m not sure is healthy, but find fascinating. We want to understand their pain in defeat, as it relates to our own pain in their defeat. They’re the ones who lost, but we suffer too, in a different way.

Why do we care about this? Why are they responding the way they do? Is the 2010 Olympic loss a permanent scar? How big of a burden is it to be the legacy of the Miracle team? Worrying like this is terrible. Feelings are terrible, other people’s feelings are even worse!

I do not have an answer for you. You’re conflicted and confused. It’s in the subcategory name. Just wait a while and hope it feels better?

SOME PEOPLE JUST WANT TO WATCH THE WORLD BURN

Good hockey is good, but you want to be entertained, and watching team USA fail spectacularly sure was that. Some chippy games, some blowouts, and then some twitter shenanigans. What a delight.

I am so happy for you. Phil Kessel obviously had the best response, but there have been so many burning hot takes coming from this. This has been a spectacular crash. I hope the rest of the tournament is just as incredible for you. I hope Europe wins, that sounds like madness.

THE ENEMY

You have been rooting against this team from this beginning, and how much happiness its defeat brings you depends on how well your own team is doing.

I have nothing to say to you. This is a post about how to feel about Team America, not Team Whatever You Care About. I don’t know what you care about, and I probably don’t care. You’re going to have to figure out your own feelings, I can’t help.

ACTUALLY DETACHED

You do not care. You want to watch good hockey. You are objective and above all of this. Sure.

I don’t believe you, robot scum.

EVERYONE

Let’s cheer for Europe now. I’m all in on that bandwagon, it sounds like a good time. But really, don’t care about the World Cup of Hockey, there are better things to do with your life.