Olympic hockey gold brings hormonal high

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      After Sidney Crosby scored the goal that won the gold medal for Canada in the Olympic men’s hockey final, people across the country went berserk. Fans at GM Place erupted with one of the loudest roars in the building’s history when the hometown goalie, Roberto Luongo, skated around the rink holding a huge Canadian flag. Crosby received a similar response when it was his turn to carry the flag.

      The party didn’t end with the presentation of the medals. Canadians gathered in downtown Vancouver, along North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Avenue, and in public places across the country to share their joy. In some cases, they drove around for hours honking their horns.

      As a Canadian, Ontario physician and provincial politician Shafiq Qaadri was proud of the country’s success. But as an expert on andropause (male menopause), he also thought about the role that testosterone was playing in the celebrations.

      “At the end of the day, there is chemistry involved,” Qaadri told the Georgia Straight in a recent phone interview. “You could see the testosterone oozing into the streets. Biologically, it was a great testosterone surge. It was like a tsunami of testosterone.”

      In his book The Testosterone Factor: A Practical Guide to Improving Vitality and Virility, Naturally (Doubleday Canada, 2006), Qaadri writes that for men, watching sports can influence hormone levels, particularly during the playoffs. When their favourite teams win, men get a jolt of testosterone, which increases their energy level and enthusiasm, creating a feeling of euphoria.

      Qaadri, who represents Etobicoke North in the Ontario legislature, said that this was particularly on display after the gold-medal men’s hockey game. “The television cameras were focusing on Sidney Crosby, who probably had the biggest testosterone surge of anyone in the country, by the way,” he noted, adding that Crosby’s reaction was shared by millions across the nation.

      He described the collective Canadian testosterone surge as “civilized” in comparison to what has sometimes happened in Europe after big soccer games. Qaadri pointed out that young men already have much higher levels running through their systems than older men, so when they get a jolt from a sporting event, it elevates the risk of violence.

      “They actually lose control,” he said. “They start smashing things, burning things, and beating each other up.”

      Qaadri added that they might even say, “ ”˜Hey, let’s take out a cop or two.’ ”

      He said that many women across Canada also experienced an increase in their hormone levels, including testosterone, as a result of the gold-medal victory. “From a doctor’s point of view, increasing testosterone in women tends to make them more amorous, more in the mood for lovemaking,” he said, which is why the hormone is sometimes offered therapeutically.

      But Qaadri said that while Canadians’ testosterone levels skyrocketed, the opposite occurred for the U.S. hockey players. He said that after the loss, their male-hormone levels crashed, and it was obvious from the looks on their faces as they stood on the ice after the game. “They were completely dumbfounded, literally in shock.”¦The poor guys—you could see the emotional trauma,” Qaadri commented.

      Many sports fans drink beer, which, according to Qaadri, can reduce testosterone levels over time if it leads to a beer belly. That’s because “central obesity”—a pad of fat around the belly—converts men’s testosterone into estrogen. He also writes in The Testosterone Factor that getting drunk wipes out about a quarter of the testosterone in the bloodstream, and that alcohol irritates the testes.

      “I think that especially in the February-March blahs, a good shot of testosterone is what the country needed,” Qaadri quipped.

      How do you think that the 2010 Winter Olympics compare with Vancouver’s Expo 86 world’s fair?

      Suzanne Anton
      NPA city councillor

      “I think both of those events were transformational for the city of Vancouver. What Expo did was it brought the city on the world stage. After that, the city always liked to call itself a world-class city. That expression always sounded to me like a clanger. I think we are a world-leading city, and the Olympics have demonstrated that. The expo was more at the Expo site, whereas the Olympics covered the whole of downtown Vancouver, Granville Island, Richmond, Surrey, and Whistler. It really engaged anybody who wouldn’t even remotely [have] thought they might be engaged.”

      Ujjal Dosanjh
      Liberal MP for Vancouver South

      “Expo 86 put us on the world map. But that kind of faded, receded into our memory. These Olympics would have put us back on the international stage in the way we are. Vancouver was a big village when I came to Canada in 1968. It became a big city in a sense in 1986. And now, I think, it has become a very, very prominent metropolis but with still the amenities and the quality of life of a small city but with the influence of a metropolis. It made Vancouver so much bigger on the international stage. This has been a unique experience in my Canadian life.”

      Ann Livingston
      Downtown Eastside activist

      “The real scandal of Expo was land that was sold for rock-bottom price on False Creek. And I think that legacy is still living out, ironically. I think that’s Concord Pacific. They [government] basically gave them land and they’ve made billions in condos. The need for housing is now worse than ever. In terms of social justice and some of the struggles that went on at the Downtown Eastside at that time, I remember the fuss that was made about [retired logger Olaf] Solheim dying when he was kicked out of that Patricia [hotel on East Hastings Street].”

      George Chow
      Vision Vancouver city councillor

      “If you’re talking about a quarter of a century ago, Vancouver was less diverse. The whole country was less diverse. So this Olympics event is actually the coming together of the country in terms of how we view ourselves. It united the country and the people. Expo 86 was a strictly local affair. It was a six-month affair. This time it was different, because the party is on the streets. We had a lot of arts and cultural events in the live sites, and that made the difference because not many could buy or afford tickets to see these competitions.”




      Mar 4, 2010 at 11:55pm

      what a bunch of fucking dickheads


      Mar 5, 2010 at 7:21am

      from Websters:

      Main Entry: <b>sport</b>
      Function: noun
      Date: 15th century

      <b>1 a : a source of diversion : recreation</b>

      Main Entry: <b>game</b>
      Pronunciation: \?g?m\
      Function: noun
      Etymology: Middle English, from Old English gamen; akin to Old High German gaman amusement
      Date: before 12th century

      <b>1 a (1) : activity engaged in for diversion or amusement </b>


      Mar 5, 2010 at 8:05am

      To people not swept up in sports mania, all the folks brandishing flags, honking, shouting, drinking, and dancing in jubilation appear to be mad, afflicted with causeless exuberance.

      It is very unusual to see Canadians behaving that way, and it is almost exclusively in response to a sports event of some kind. That a small group of highly paid, professional athletes should manage to win over their competition in a match of some kind is not exactly a profound or earth shattering event. There are many profound and earth shaking events happening all over our country and the world, but these generally pass unnoticed. They certainly don't stir up any testosterone or other hormones that I can detect.

      I can't help wondering whether the particular hormones stirred up by getting wrapped up in sports competitions aren't a means which the powerful corporate heads employ to give people a jolt of excitement and a sense of deep meaning, without directing their attention to anything actually going on in the real world, which is generally discouraging, dismal and even horrifying.

      If so, then it's no wonder that the corporations and the ultra rich always make sure there are billions of dollars (of generally taxpayer money) to invest in sports stadiums and sports competitions, when other more substantive human needs, like housing, health care, fitness, the arts, education and public transportation are progressively defunded.


      Mar 5, 2010 at 3:10pm

      @ Strategis: yes, it's a diversion, or entertainment. And yes, there are more "important" things going on out there. More "serious" things. But if you were ever to solve these problems, or devote yourself to them, would you ever feel this same sort of exuberence? No. Why? Because once you solve one thing (or more likely, one small part of a much bigger problem) you would be faced with the realization that you had only made a small dent in the over-arching problem.

      Not so with sport. If your team wins a championship, it's yours. That year, or tournament, or event will always be "yours". Yes, there will be another, but that only gives you another chance to win it again. That's the benefit of sport. Or entertainment. It's a small, limited field in which expectations are controlled and "victory" (or simply entertainment) can be achieved. We weren't partying because "the corporations" told us to, compelled us to, or hormonally-controlled-us-to. We partied because we were happy and it was fun. Remember fun? (Also, and more editorially, I think you're ceding too much power to corporations by this fearful, conspiracy-mongering).

      Yes, there are bigger problems out there. Yes, they should be dealt with. If you feel you must devote your entire life to a cause, that is worthy and I wish you luck. But don't pretend that this devotion makes you "better" by default. It just means you're too serious to recognize the benefits of a party. Like Fun.


      Mar 5, 2010 at 5:37pm

      The problem is Ajoe1982 you're confusing fun and celebration.

      The reason that sport and games are so important is that fans (fanatics) have given up trying or more likely can't even identify serious problems. Think of all those Romans watching the gladiators while waiting for bread from the Emperor.

      They've diverted productive energy from difficult, serious things to easy, fun things. Desperate for some sense of accomplishment, they imagine that the team's victory is theirs. The bigger the frustration the bigger the fan.

      Main Entry: 1suck ·er
      Pronunciation: \?s?-k?r\
      Function: noun
      Date: 14th century
      5 a : <b>a person easily cheated or deceived</b>


      Mar 7, 2010 at 7:31am

      We watched the women play great hockey and win, then go back to their day jobs, and in some cases brought their children out on the ice to enjoy the event.It was a great event Watching professional hockey players playing professional hocky players is of no interest to us.


      Mar 8, 2010 at 10:51am

      The original Olympics involved a few events such as javelin and discus throwing, wrestling and chariot racing - activities that were useful in the defence of the Greek city states. In that time, to celebrate the prowess of one's local competitors represented the achievement of the local culture to engender worthy citizens that could serve the common good of their society.

      The modern Olympics and other professional sports are not celebrations of skills or accomplishments that further the common good of society - they are useless achievements that are disconnected from the real challenges and threats that our society faces. Real challenges, opportunities and threats that most citizens are unaware of, because they spend their free time drinking alcohol, obsessing on sports and celebrity voyeurism, and watching crass entertainment.

      So the original Olympics focused the society towards meaningful and productive accomplishments, whereas the modern Olympics distract people from the valuable and necessary accomplishments and skills which will enable our society to survive, thrive, and progress in a meaningful way. Modern professional sports are circuses to manipulate and disempower the masses, not what the Olympic theme song indicates - examples of people coming together in pursuit of true excellence.