The Swedish temperament was brought into focus his week as Backstrom grabbed the all-time assists record for the Capitals, and it is undeniably modest
Once upon a time Monty Python, attempted to teach the rest of us the seemingly invaluable skill of how not to be seen. Their methodology centered around the employment of local vegetation as camouflage gambling news of your location would not then be known to those looking for you. This was then invalidated as an option by use of “reconnaissance-by-fire”, a military standard by which you shoot at things until one of them screams, whereupon you declare that to be where the enemy are.
Whilst invisibility is quite tricky to manage at the best of times there is certainly something to be said for keeping one’s head down and just getting on with things, displaying a suitably modest almost self-afacing, attitude to one’s individual achievements, instead emphasizing the wider success that this was merely a small part of. Not that I’ve ever managed it myself, of course, if I get something right the novelty value alone makes me expectant of praise, but then I’m at a disadvantage; I’m not a Swede.
Swedish Modesty Blazes
• Ericsson comes 8th in Melbourne
• Bjorkman to join Murray
• Tommy Krangh steals the show
The Swedes have an old saying about no one wanting to be the tallest shaft of wheat in the crop, this is entirely indicative of their national character’s major trait, their modesty, and, frankly, in my opinion says quite a lot about their attitude to life which isn’t, let’s be honest, all about waiting for a blade to scythe us down. Naturally the universe’s sense of irony immediately points out that the exceptional level of Swedish modesty is precisely what makes it stand out from the crowd, something they dislike.
Even in a moment of undeniable personal success the Swedish sense of modesty rears its head and seems to detract just slightly from the achievement, take for instance Nicklas Backstrom who just became the Capital’s all-time leader in assists. Getting two more to bring his total up to 420 in just 565 games, 260 fewer than the previous record holder, he should have been rather pleased with himself, instead he seemed pleased with just about everyone else and intent on saying so.
Backstrom Gets 420th Assist
“I’ve been part of this organization for eight years. Maybe it’s playing with a lot of good players over the years. They help me a lot. That’s why I’m in this situation I think.” He told the press evenly, and all but dismissed his only ever having missed five games in his career, saying; “I don’t like to take games off if I’m bumped up, it’s not who I am. Maybe I don’t have the toughest style either, I’m more a middle of the ice guy so maybe that helps a lot to prevent injuries.”
“You just want to be average, you don’t want to stand out.” Explained Backstrom in reference to the old saying. “That’s for sure the culture there. You can’t stand out because that’s rude, kind of. That’s why I think a lot of Swedish players are like that. Let’s say you do something good. It doesn’t have to be in hockey or sports, you shouldn’t stand out, you should be normal. That’s how Sweden is. People aren’t jealous of other people. That’s what I would say it is.”
Of course if you’re Swedish gambling laws of national modesty will help you in professional sports abroad, think again, the press having to highlight an entire national trait to excuse the somewhat dour responses from a hockey player demonstrate just how much it doesn’t fit in to expected behavior. Backstrom is fortunately manifestly part of a team, but not all Swedes abroad have the luxury of that evident group effort in the public mindset with which to diffuse questions about themselves.
Take Sauber’s Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson who sits alone in the car for the laps of the race despite a massive team effort behind him. The mechanics, team co-ordinators and design or development team spending nowhere near as much time in the glare of the media spotlight. He found himself in the midst of a legal battle just ahead of the season’s opener in Australia, where Dutchman Giedo Van Der Garde was suing for the right he says he possesses to race for the team this year.
Sauber’s Swede Scores
As it was negotiations between the team and their former reserve driver saw the latter drop his demands allowing Ericsson to race, and indeed come a very decent 8th place with his teammate, Felipe Nasr, driving superbly to gain an excellent 5th place finish on his F1 debut. With both drivers finishing in the points Sauber have every right to be pleased but don’t expect the Swede to be doing any bragging in front of the cameras with both drivers praising their teams efforts in the lead up to the grid down under.
Naturally those of you who like to bet on sport in Sweden, perhaps on Macedonian websites or indeed the likes of ComeOn! Sportsbook, will already have cause to know of Jonas Bjorkman, former world No.4 tennis ace, who retired in 2008 from the ATP (as the oldest player at the time) and indeed perhaps might have heard that he will be joining the “team” that coaches British tennis star Andy Murray. With focus being one of the major stumbling blocks for the Brit it is widely thought the Swedes long experience will be invaluable.
Of course currently Bjorkman is taking part in a competitive dance television show in Sweden but will be working with Murray for a week once he’s done. It was left to tennis legend Pat Cash to characterize that process saying; “Jonas is a good guy, he’ll talk pretty straight to him, I think, and Andy’s a straightforward Scotsman so I think hopefully this will be a good idea.” A Swede, once again, just getting on with the task in hand to the best of their abilities, even one who used to enjoy the limelight.
The limelight, however, has not this week fallen on any of these talented hardworking Swedes, perhaps because in Sweden one man dared to rise above the glass-ceiling of modesty, demonstrating that you can do your job to the best of your abilities, giving your all to serve the team for which you work, and yet still stand out from the crowd. That man? Mr. Tommy Krangh a sign language interpreter for SVT’s coverage of the Eurovision song contest qualifiers who entered into the spirit of the music – fabulously.