By Alex Wong / @steven_lebron
It’s been more than once or 10 times that I’ve had a discussion with friends on how great it would be to be in another city, whether it be Boston (was one successful final interview away from moving there once), New York (would love to live there, without having to confront the cost of living) or anywhere in California (would apply for a work visa, along with a license to bandwagon any team in the state).
And yet, those dreams of being in a successful sports city always come back to one thing: It would be pretty great if that finally happened here in Toronto.
I figure it’d be worthwhile to interrupt my apathy to frame this under the appropriate context, given that our hockey team won a lot many years ago, our baseball team was back-to-back World Series champs, and the basketball team once fielded a national attraction named Vince Carter.
But personally, I came to Canada in 1993, and since the Jays’ last World Series win that year, I might have to reference Doug Flutie, Pinball Cleamons and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League as the last true winners around these parts. Meanwhile, everyone in North America remembers the CFL when Chris Berman devotes two minutes to the Grey Cup in between Week 12 highlights every year.
It’s all the more frustrating to be a basketball fan in this city — the presence of the fanbase, whether it be within my inner circle or online, always feels much larger than we’re made to feel.
Hockey — the sport we all associate with Canada, and specifically Toronto — is in a labor dispute at the moment. And still, our local sports networks find a way to deliver a half an hour hockey program every night, the self-explanatory “That’s Hockey.” To cheer for a sport that is always second or third billing can be demoralizing and just frustrating in general because we only need another reason to feel small in the grand scheme of things.
It’s hard to really pinpoint where the frustration should be directed. On one hand, no one talks about Toronto much, because, well, we’re over here, not down there. On the other, there’s really not much worth talking about around these parts.
But because you linger on long enough as a sports fan — that apathy eventually becomes mundane and you find another train of thought maybe entirely by default — I’ve come to realize this: When Toronto finally succeeds as a sports town, we will be able to celebrate it all to ourselves, a sort of triumph over everyone who’s chosen to neglect us.
We can be pretty unbearable as a fanbase in losing. I can only imagine how it will be when we actually win something.
Last week, J.R. Smith and Jerryd Bayless got into a scuffle, after which Smith said that Bayless has a sort of small man complex and feels the need to act tough.
That’s really how I feel when I talk about Toronto sports: It makes me feel small.
I guess there’s something good about being humbled.