Thursday, June 16, 2011

On Electing Fandom.

The only thing more disappointing to a sports fan than following his team for thirty plus years and watching them reach the cup three times only to lose it is the riots which have followed two of the last three cup attempts.

Vancouver played well during the season and displayed far less of their on-again-off-again style of play. Luongo, was even a little better this season but still had a major blow up every fifteen games or so. It looked like we really had a decent chance as we headed into the post season and although I didn't have high hopes, much to the dismay and disgust of fellow fans, I awaited each round with a healthy dose of nervous anticipation and giddy excitement.

After making it past the second round I was pretty stoked. At least it wouldn't be another typical blowout. The third round passed and we were headed for the final where I thought we really had a good chance of winning.

Whatever your view on the last game of the playoffs, Boston won the series fair and square. It looked as though Vancouver was squeaking through as Tim Thomas stood on his head time and again to make amazing saves. He truly did deserve the Conn Smythe over and above anyone else on the ice. Well done Tim Thomas.

The predictable riots which followed and the apparent public disgust evidenced on Facebook was truly illuminating for me.

"Those aren't true Canucks fans".

The mantra was repeated in hopes of washing the blood off our hands.

"A few bad apples".


Those Canucks-logo-clad miscreants burning cars and smashing windows are every bit as much a Canucks fan as the person sitting in the stands twirling a towel.

"WHAT AN OUTRAGE!" you say.

Those idiots, and they are exactly that, probably cheered just as hard, watched on average as many regular and post season games and were probably as aware of the roster as anyone else. Certainly no sane individual would say that someone who smashes a window but watches eighty games a season is less a fan than someone who only watches the last round when the Canucks are in the Cup. The fact that their behavior is disgusting has nothing to do with them being a fan. People who say as much are seeing a correlation between two unrelated values. After all, isn't it just as possible  for a law-abiding person to NOT be a Canucks fan? Criminality and fandom have no relationship. I'm sure there were plenty of incarcerated individuals in both Boston and British Columbia cheering in front of the prison television.

"Well then, those people are not fans like me", you state in defense.

Well actually they are in many ways. You have both elected... ELECTED to follow the Canucks and call yourself a fan. You weren't born into a system of Canucks fandom. You weren't made to be one by some dictator. You possibly grew up watching them and therefore consider them your home team but at some point you looked at all the sports, leagues and teams in the world and said, "Yeah, I'm a Canucks fan". You made a conscious decision to follow this team and it was instant acceptance as there were no qualifications for entry.

The criminal smashing windows did this as well.

Criminals exist in society. 32000 or 0.13% Canadians were in prison in 2001. 10% of Canadian have a criminal record. We know there are criminals in Vancouver and it would be foolish to suggest that none of them are Canucks fans.

Does a criminal record make the three hundred thousand Canadians with criminal records in Canada not Canadians? It does not. Not by law or by any other line of reasoning. Do criminals in our society make us not want to be Canadian or to relinquish our citizenship? More than likely not, as much as we all wish there were no criminals. We accept that there are criminals in our society and attempt to dissuade their behavior through punishment but even when there is no end to criminal behavior in sight most of us rarely reach a point where we burn our passports and set off for another land seeking asylum. Why? Probably because ever country has criminals. By the same token, does a criminal record exclude one from Canucks fandom? No.

So, to sum up:

With citizenship you earn or are born into it and there are qualification requirements. With fandom you elect it and there are no qualification requirements. Just as every country has criminals, every sports team fanbase does as well.

Those who say the criminals who perpetuated the destruction on Vancouver's downtown core are not "true Canucks fans" are creating a distinction between themselves and those idiots which frankly does not exist. Remember, there was no qualifications for entry in Canucks fandom. The only distinction which exists is that one group of fans rioted and another did not. The rioters are Canucks fans and more than likely they are Canadian. Many are probably native born Canadians but NONE of them including yourself was a native born Canuck. I have yet to see one person write that the riots have made them not want to be a Canadian (though they may exist). I have read a few posts that it has made some not want to be a Vancouverite. I have read far fewer that no longer want to be considered a Canucks fan.

So as you choose to stay a Canucks fan remember you are electing to be a member of a group which has no qualifications for entry. A group that includes the people responsible for the riot.

No comments:

Post a Comment