I’m a resident of Toronto, the metropolis of Canada and a city that, perhaps, because of its rapid growth–Toronto grew from a provincial city of a few hundred thousand to a world city more populous than Berlin–is addicted to comparing itself against other cities. New York City, occupying an analogous position in the United States (but in other ways so completely different) is common; Chicago, another city of the North American Midwest, ditto; Melbourne and London, somewhat refreshingly, have most recently been raised. Toronto wants so badly to be a mature world city, a world-beating city.
Sports play a huge role in Torontonian local patriotism, as they do in every other community of any size. It’s all the more pity that our sports teams don’t do well. The Toronto Blue Jays, as my colleague noted in his previous post, are lumbering. Toronto’s CFL football team, the Argonauts, is decent enough, but recent suggestions that Toronto might acquire a NFL team–whether an expansion team or a purchase of the Buffalo Bills–are unlikely to be fulfilled. Perhaps the nicest thing that can be said about Toronto FC is that it hasn’t broken our hearts yet. The Toronto Raptors are coming up on their longest-ever losing streak. And then, there are the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the great sport of Canadian sport of hockey, the Maple Leafs not having won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and the game of hockey dying because hockey’s just not a presence for an increasingly diverse Canadian population.
Torontonian patriotism is frequently vested in sports teams despite their poor record. It’s also invested–sadly, I think–in the hope that the teams will get better, that they will one day improve and make records again (good ones). I don’t share this, really, having family connections to the Boston Bruins and coming from a province that once hosted an Ottawa Senators farm team (the Prince Edward Island Senators) and having rooted, like every other young Canadian back in the 1980s for Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers back in the day. I really have to wonder: Is there a point when you have to stop caring for your community’s team, if only because the team isn’t fulfilling your expectations?