Tonight, the National Hockey League’s playoff for the Stanley Cup starts for me, with my home team, the Washington Capitals, facing the Boston Bruins in Boston.
“Go Caps!” But I also want to add: “Go Sweden!”
Like millions of NHL fans around the world, I have two loyalties: the team itself and those team members from my home country. In my case, they are Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, two of a total of 59 Swedes all around the NHL — more, even, than the Russians (42), Czechs (40), Finns (21), Slovaks (10) and the handful of German speakers.
Yes, the Canadians and the Americans still dominate – you only hear two national anthems before each game – but the internationalization of the National Hockey League is a fact and in full view on its website, the only truly multilingual site of any major sport, with eight language versions: English, French, Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Slovak, and German.
The Major League Baseball website has only three foreign languages, Spanish, Japanese and Korean, while the National Basketball Association, with its huge international following and all the players from Europe, Latin America, and Asia, is only in English.
Now, Sweden has only one player in the NBA, Jonas Jerebko of the Detroit Pistons, so I can understand the lack of a Swedish language site, but come on…Spanish, Chinese, Serbian, Croatian, Russian, Turkish, German.
We all really wish our country men to do well, so now you understand: Go Caps — Go Sweden!