Patrick Kane, The Human Mind And Olympic Hockey Hypocrisy

Patrick Kane: Offensive Juggernaut, Speedy Gonzalez, Baby-Faced Assassin
Patrick Kane: Offensive Juggernaut, Speedy Gonzalez, Baby-Faced Assassin


I despise Patrick Kane.

The guy is a caricature of everything people cannot stand about “frat-boy” culture.  He uses terms like “my boy” to describe intimates, seems to love drinking during the day (something people should never do), punched a hapless cabbie in the head and uses phone-cameras to document his life in the same way that your irritating ex-girlfriend does.

Having said all that, he is an exceptional hockey player, and there will be a two-week interval during the 2013-2014 season where I desperately hope he plays the best hockey of his life.

The interval will take place during the Olympics, and I hope he plays the best hockey of his life during the games because Kane, like myself, is an American.

This is what Olympic hockey does, in a sense: turns fans into hypocrites.

The reason for this is patriotism.

Take a look at how Andrew Sullivan, blogger for “The Dish,” defines patriotism and how it differs from nationalism.

The desire to see our countrymen succeed is particularly relevant here. If we accept Sullivan’s definition, then our hypocrisy becomes perfectly understandable, but some issues still remain…

People claim to want the best for their countrymen, but patriotic thoughts like “I would die for my fellow Americans” do not serve most of us during our everyday lives.  We are usually concerned with feeding, clothing and amusing ourselves.  Marveling at the courage of war veterans or contemplating the brilliance of the founding fathers will not help fulfill these basic human desires.

However, thoughts like “I hope the Red Wings win tonight” do help fulfill these desires.  We watch the Red Wings (or whoever) on a regular basis and have done so for many years.  As a result, great stretches of our time are spent celebrating or condemning their performance.

On the other hand, our devotion to Team USA is less frequent, and we may find some American players revolting.  But none of this will prevent me from screeching when Kane ties the game, puts USA on the board, gives USA a lead or gives USA a win.

Patrick Kane: An Off-season of Turmoil  (property of the author)
Patrick Kane: An Off-season of Turmoil (property of the author)


Our desire for players to excel is obviously arbitrary; contingent upon what team the player is a member of.  I want Kane to score goals as an American but not as a Blackhawk.

This is not breaking news.  In fact, this hypocrisy is at work when we watch our home teams (I don’t like player X, but he is on team Y, so I want him to score). What makes Olympic hockey unique is it gives us the chance to see just how arbitrary and temporary our allegiances really are.

Patrick Kane will only be on Team USA for two weeks; the period of time I will want him to light it up.  As soon as the games are over, he will return to being another loud-mouthed Blackhawk, and I will want someone to victimize him.

“Ok. So what? It’s just a game,” you might be saying.

The more disturbed members of fandom will disagree that hockey is just a game, but “so what?” is a fair question.

The answer is people are born hypocrites.

Robert Kurzban, professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, explains.

Hmmm.  Very interesting.

So there is a part of my mind, an “app”, that hates Patrick Kane, wishes for him to fail and longs for him to be “Kronwalled.”  There is another part of my mind, another “app”, that wants Team USA to win the gold medal.  On the face of it, these two “apps” should not conflict, but they do because Kane and I share a nationality, a fondness for hockey and presumably, a sense of patriotism.

Since I have not read Kurzban’s book and am not a psychologist, I will have to do some “educated” guesswork in the next paragraph.  If you have a background in brain-study, please feel free to correct me.

Our brains developed these “apps” through evolutionary processes.  The human mind has “apps” that cause us to believe inconsistent things because we live in an inconsistent world.  The neighborhood lion may kill us today or it may not.  It could be rainy today or it could be sunny.  I might be sick today or I might not.  Since these events could occur at any moment, these “apps” must ready to function at any moment.

We don’t know exactly what shaped the world, but the world is exactly what shaped the brain.

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics logo

This leads to a basic question: why is hypocrisy bad?  Hypocrisy is thought of as bad because being a hypocrite damages our credibility.  Given that human beings are social beasts, having one’s credibility damaged is disadvantageous.  We want people to take what we say seriously which is a difficult task in and of itself.  Being thought of as a hypocrite makes it even more difficult.

“Don’t listen to John.  He’s full of it,” is a consequence of being a hypocrite and will not help a person endure Darwinian perils, or anything else.

If Kurzban is correct, then human beings have a natural inclination, a need, to be hypocritical.  Being a sports fan satisfies this need because in sports, being a hypocrite is no big deal.  This may support the view of some people that humanity is wretched or fallen; a “virus” as we are referred to in the overrated “Matrix” movies.

The idea that humanity is vile is a silly, I dare say ignorant, view.  Humanity is far too complex to be labeled as wretched, fallen is a religious concept that I won’t address here, and a virus can’t come to its senses and attempt to clean the atmosphere and protect an endangered species.

“Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin,” Darwin said when discussing our relationship to apes.

The stamp of our lowly origins is in our minds too, Charles.  For that is where hypocrisy lies.



12 thoughts on “Patrick Kane, The Human Mind And Olympic Hockey Hypocrisy”

  1. you’re posting obvious stuff (what a news humans got more than one interest/allegiance in their life) in a pseudo-scientfic approach to hate a little against patrick kane… kane should be sorry for living his life another way you would recommend. he should be a role model.. thank god you don’t covet him anything..

  2. well fellows , I have once again learned an awfully lot about hockey ,that I never knew in the old days of ihl… oh, by the way rich, if you check huffington post I’d say 2009 or any other news source then, you would read about Blackhawks Kane and his cuz beating the crap out of a cabbie over 20 cents… arrested for felonious robbery and misdemeanor blah blah …. you check it out …. I’m too dead to search so much.
    anyway Ian I first resisted the addition of other men’s ideas into the pure hockey grail, but after reading your fascinating ability to tie together our sport, psychology, and some ideas of loyalty by an interesting blogoon, I decided …I think this is terrific ! and thanks to you ,my hockey blood runs richer… err sorry rich I didn’t mean you. ogf

  3. Good, interesting read. However, I am a firm believe in country before team before player. I will root for the US National Team over the Red Wings. I will root for the Red Wings over any particular player.

    Is it being hypocritical, then, for me to cheer for Patrick Kane during the upcoming Olympics? I don’t think so. My strongest hockey allegiance is to USA Hockey. My hate for Patrick Kane (which is extreme) is due to my Red Wings and personal level allegiances and preferences.

    As Patrick Kane is a part of my strongest allegiance, I cheer for him do well for my allegiance…not for HIM personally.

    What you say is interesting and makes sense, I just question whether remaining true to my strongest allegiance makes me a hypocrite. Worth considering, I think.

    • When Patrick Kane is the enemy of my second allegiance (the Red Wings), I despise him, as well.

      On an individual level, I dislike his demeanor and actions, so I dislike him as a person.

      However, if Patrick Kane were a Red Wing, I would cheer for him the same way I cheer for Todd Bertuzzi. My allegiance to the Red Wings is stronger than my hate for Patrick Kane.

      Again: Nation > Country > Team.

    • It is hypocritical in the most acceptable and mild sense. Thinking about this small dose of hypocrisy made me think that delving into its neurological/evolutionary roots would be interesting.

      • You’re right, it is interesting and worth taking a look at. It was a good read. I often say Patrick Kane is my least favorite player for 3 years, 11 months and 2 weeks at a time, and the other 2 weeks he is my favorite (unless Howard gets a job, of course).

        I would rather see USA Hockey bring home gold than a twelfth Cup this season, but that’s just me. Probably because I’m bitter about 2010 and I have seen four Cups lifted, just two of which I remember.

      • As I rethink my comment, you’re right. It is hypocritical, but I also think it is justified. I am remaining true to my top priority, which takes precedence over my feelings toward specific players.

  4. Is Ian Dunham your real name or a pseudonym? Kane should sue your ass for libel. “Punched a hapless cabbie in the head?” Did you witness this act? See a video of it? Read of it in court documents? Didn’t think so. You are truly a hack.

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