Professional Sports & Patriotism
Does which team you root for in pro sports equate to your patriotism (or lack thereof?) I don’t think so bit someone who used to follow me on Twitter did. The post that follows was inspired by events that occurred on April 23, 2011. It is when I write posts like this that I truly wish I had the option to jump to a specific date in my Twitter stream as I dreamed of having in this post but I digress.
As someone who was born and raised in Toronto I am, like most Torontonians, a Leafs fan. As a Leafs fan it is my time honored duty to hate the Montreal Canadiens aka “the Habs”. It doesn’t matter who the Habs are playing, I will cheer against the hockey team from Montreal every single time with one exception – if the Habs winning will mathematically help my Leafs in the standings. Even then, I won’t cheer for the Habs, I will cheer against the team that is playing the Habs.
Long story short, Leafs fans do not cheer for the Montreal Canadiens, ever. This has nothing to do with the fact that both teams play in Canada – although until the most recent Federal elections it looked as if the people of Quebec would have liked to change that too and remember, the events that inspired this post occurred BEFORE the 2011 Canadian Federal Election when the Bloc Québécois lost official party status. This is just about people from Toronto being Leafs fans and cheering against their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. The rivalry is so well known and acknowledged it has its own Wikipedia article: “Maple Leafs – Canadiens rivalry“. The Toronto subway station College, which is the closest station to the former home of the Maple Leafs, Maple Leafs Gardens, has a mural on both the southbound and northbound sides’ walls called “Hockey Knights In Canada” the southbound side has a bunch of Maple Leafs players…do you know who is on the northbound side? The Montreal Canadiens.
The events that inspired this post were on the evening of April 23, 2011 the Montreal Canadiens were playing the Boston Bruins in Game 5 (Recap Linked) of the Northeast Division Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. The series was tied at 2 and the Canadiens lost the game, played in Montreal, in double overtime. I tweeted my excitement something to the effect of “Hooray! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose! Habs Lose!” That tweet was something which someone until then followed me on Twitter did not appreciate. The aforementioned gentleman called me a douche and unfollowed me.
I didn’t even really notice the unfollowing until a little bit later but was more surprised by the calling me a douche. When I asked him about it he asked how I could cheer for an American team and accused me of being anti-Canadian. I explained to him that that made no logical sense because this is professional sports we are talking about, not the Federal Government. I am actually one of the only people I know who will not talk when either the American or the Canadian anthems are being played out of my respect for both countries. Oh, did I ever mention I am a dual citizen holding American and Canadian citizenship?
Cheering for the Boston Bruins when they are playing against the Habs does not, in my mind, make me anti-Canadian and I felt very offended that this guy called my patriotism into question based on it. At the end of the day it is a sport being played for entertainment. While I am well aware that there are enough people out there who make pro sports into a religion at the end of the day, which team you root for does not equate to your patriotism.
Another heated pro sports rivalry is the New York Yankees – Boston Red Sox (they also have their own, much longer, Wikipedia article Yankees – Red Sox rivalry). This rivalry is so intense that New Era filmed a series of commercials (below is the first one) about Trash Talking between John Krasinski who’s a Red Sox fan and Alec Baldwin who’s a Yankees fan.
If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video and then read on.
[– Link for mobile friendly video viewing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e57dlq7ZA4 –]
When at the end of the commercial John Krasinski says to Alec Baldwin “You’ll be DEAD in October!“, there is a good few second pause of absolute silence where John realizes he has taken the conversation beyond trash talk and he has begun to take the whole thing way, way too seriously.
John then breaks the awkward silence and says “Was that a little too much?”
Alec calmly replies, “I think you know it was.”
“Sorry, I just got really worked up.”
“We all do.”
Bam, end of commercial. Beautifully done!
I think that commercial is amazing for so many reasons but it is perfect for the point I am trying to make with this blog post. Sports rivalries are just sports rivalries. There is no reason that they should come between a friendship or even a “Twitter relationship”. Also, it is important for us all to realize when we have gotten a little too worked up over sports rivalries and take a step back. I hope one day the person who inspired me to write this post will apologize or at least start talking to me again. I found it interesting that he didn’t have any problem with a friend of mine, who ReTweeted my tweet and had tweeted many other disparaging remarks about the Habs. Maybe she got a pass because she is easy on the eyes and lacks a Y chromosome? I don’t know.
I am not a douche because I do not support the same team as you do. I am certainly not anti-Canada because I am cheering for an American team over my favorite team’s rival. If the Red Sox are playing the Toronto Blue Jays I promise you that Yankees fans are cheering for the Jays. It has nothing to do with people in New York City (or Yankees fans anywhere) being unpatriotic Americans. It is simply that they do not want to see their team’s rival succeed in any way shape or form. But, after all is said and done I think it would be great if we all sat down and grabbed a beer together.
Every Sunday during football season I go to my friend’s apartment and watch football. He is a huge Buffalo Bills fan and I love my Miami Dolphins (and this is another sports rivalry which has its own Wikipedia article by the way “Bills–Dolphins rivalry“). However, every Sunday we sit and watch football together, eat wings, drink beer, and make fun of each other’s team. It has not affected our friendship that we are fans of rival teams. We are both well aware that there are much more important things in our lives other than how a team of professional athletes play against another team of professional athletes both teams filled with people who couldn’t give a damn whether we lived or died so long as the team’s ticket sales are unaffected and they continue to get their multi-million dollar salaries.
GO LEAFS GO!