From America with affection?

It is the last day of November, the anniversary of the day of commencement of the Winter War waged by the Soviet Union against Finland, and your favorite blogger reports back to duty.

On November 30, 1939, the mighty Red Army invaded tiny little Finland without hiding its overarching aim, which was the subjugation of the entire republic. After ferocious fighting in arctic temperatures, however, the invaders had to content themselves with a slice of eastern Finland – and a badly shaken reputation as a credible military power.

Did our grandparents fight for nothing? Do their sacrifices serve any meaningful purpose today, more than three quarters of a century after the end of hostilities?

A Finnish ski patrol, 1940 (SA-kuva).

I am asking painful questions because I just finished reading today’s newspapers and could not help peeking at the sports pages. Again, major stories focused on a basketball player’s injury that has kept him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks. Right now, the shoulder seems to be just about okay, and the athlete may well report back to his playful duty next week – apparently in honor of Finland’s 101st Independence Day on December 6!

This particular player is indeed a Finn. In fact, he is a well-paid NBA professional, the very first Finn to make it big in the North American basketball league.

Ever since Chicago Bulls recruited him earlier this year, the Finnish media has been awash with earnest basketball reports. A full-fledged book (‘biography’) recently came out, and a number of Finnish journalists virtually commute between Helsinki and Chicago. You see, the Finnish lad knows a thing or two about scoring points!

Traditionally, the very same media has been partial to ice hockey, the North American wintry game that took Finland by storm decades ago. Not a single goal or assist by a Finnish NHL player goes unreported in this country, and every responsible parent dreams of his or her offspring making it to the NHL Entry Draft.

To put it bluntly, we have surrendered to the American sports juggernaut. The descendants of the Winter War’s heroes would have deserved a better fate. Our grandparents surely did not repel the Soviet or ‘Russian’ invasion because they yearned to have their grandchildren fall in love with American pastimes.

Personally, I would rather see Finland’s sportive landscape becoming Russified, whatever that entails, than languish still another day under the hegemony of transatlantic sports.

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