Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Complete Lack of Passion that Unites us all

...first of all, it was for a part in A Chorus Line, secondly, it was the eighties and finally, I was probably high. Things were a lot different back then so don't you dare judge me.


I've had some time to cool down. I think I can now comment on the pathetic end of the 2007-2008 Toronto Maple Leafs season without resorting to violence or tears. While the newspaper pundits, talking heads and predominantly mouth-breathing fans that call the local radio stations are tripping over themselves to point fingers at every player and every member of the organization, very little criticism is being levelled at those that deserve it the most. A week ago this Tuesday, the Leafs came home after back-to-back wins in Buffalo and Ottawa to play what had somehow become a legitimately important hockey game against Boston. The Bruins were the weakened prey desperately clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot and we, the Maple Leafs, were hot on their heels. The game started with the young Leafs looking nervous and suddenly unsure of themselves as they faced a game that actually meant something. This is where your fans rise up to support you with both encouragement and energy. It is the players' job to win but every now and again those in the seats are called upon for a bit of a push. Football teams put the "12th man" on their walls of fame because of these very moments. Of course, we all know what happened. The fans showed up late, sat on their hands and eventually started booing before leaving early. Game over. Season over.

There's been a certain symmetry to this forgettable season. It started with a spirited effort on the ice which was met with apathy and petulance from the privileged assemblage at the house that inflated investment management fees and $100 oil built (see October 4th post) and ended with an even less enthusiastic response when it was needed most. The energy and electricity that the home team thrives off of was absent throughout the 40 home games played to date, with the possible exception of this past Saturday's game when the lower bowl was full of Montreal fans. As distasteful a concept as that is, at least there was a large gathering of actual hockey fans in the good seats. In fact, that meaningless game was the most fun I'd had at a Leafs game in the last few years.

As I watched the Jays and Yankees play their opening night game I was literally moved by the passion of the sold out crowd. This was for 1 of 162 games in a season rather than a "do or die", "lose and you're done" affair. Plus, its in New York where their bankers are richer, their CEOs are more important and their old money is even older (and more monied) than ours. If there is any populace that has a justifiable case to act like a bunch of self-important, "too cool to stand up and make noise" wallflowers it's them, not us. Yet, there they are. Standing and yelling, resplendent in team colours, even if they came directly from their Wall Street offices or a foie gras tasting in the Hamptons. Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch but please allow me a bit of leeway for exaggeration here for emphasis.

What is it about our upper crust (be they legitimately up and crusty or just pretending to be so) that makes them so miserable? Why must they ruin every sporting event in this city by turning it into a place to be seen but definitely not heard? Furthermore, why does this not elicit more of an outcry from the legitimate fans of the Leafs or those of the other Toronto teams? Sure the team has a myriad of deficiencies and ample room for improvement, but at some point the silent majority in the golds and platinum must shoulder some of the blame for yet another waste of a season. Look deep inside that empty suit of yours and see if there is even the slightest bit of you that actually cares about this team. If so, and I'm begging you here, just stay at home next year. If you must just please don't buy Raptors playoff tickets as well. It's Spring so the ByMark patio will be open soon. Take your clients or meet your douchebag friends there.


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47_Ronin said...

Great column - and right at the heart of the problem. Personally I think that MLSE should introduce an "Opposites Night", where everyone with a ticket for the upper bowl gets a seat in the lower bowl, and vice-versa..I bet that would make for a more entertaining game! BTW - dead on the money with the ByMark's the Bay Street Douche-eteria..just needs trays and a soda fountain pouring flat coke (for $10 a glass of course)