Would you be willing to represent a Communist regime that operates labor and concentration camps if it meant getting a chance to play in the Olympics as a hockey player? Seven Americans, many with zero Chinese ancestry or connection to the nation decided it was worth it and they will suit up for the Communists when China faces the United States in the Beijing Olympics hockey opener on February 10.
Chris Chelios’ son, Jake, is one of those Americans who has decided to represent China. Jake moved to Beijing in 2019 to play for the China-owned Kunlun Red Star in the KHL, but the team was forced to relocate to Moscow due to COVID.
Now Jake’s back in China and hoping to beat his homeland for a country that has made life a living hell for Uyghurs in the western province of Xinjiang.
“I think half the family was a little confused of what was going on at first, but now they’re starting to understand how special it is,” Chelios told the Associated Press. “Since we’ve been over here for three years, whatever it is, you do start to feel a closeness to China. We’ve been eating Chinese food, we’ve been living the Chinese culture, so there’s a certain closeness you start to feel with China, and you start to feel like you’re actually going to represent them and you want to win for them.”
Imagine the mental gymnastics one has to go through to actually want to win Olympic hockey games for a Communist regime that would love to see the U.S. suffer great defeats on the ice and in life. Imagine putting your body on the line for that Communist regime.
Is it really worth it?
For Chelios, who played in five NHL games in his career before heading to China for the KHL, and goaltender Jeremy Smith, a veteran of 10 NHL games, they determined representing the Chinese wasn’t a dealbreaker.
“Of course I said yes,” Smith told the AP. “I think it’s an honor to play in the Olympics. But to dream of playing for the host city in the Olympics, I didn’t ever think there would be a chance for me in my lifetime.”
Really? It’s an honor to stand there proud as the red, white, and blue stares back while you wear sweaters representing a Communist party that makes dissenters disappear?
“I’d call it more of an experience than a grind,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I don’t want to take it for granted and I’m very appreciative of the chance I’m given.”
Call me old-fashioned, or whatever you’d like, but I’m not this desperate to participate in the Olympics. How could I go to a lake on the 4th of July and listen to Kid Rock and watch fireworks in the same way after such an experience?
Representing Latvia, or trying to make the Greek bobsled team as Chris Chelios attempted in 2004 is one thing, but China?
Smith and Jake Chelios don’t seem to have any regrets. For now.