Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vancouver, 0

In June of 1993 I was staying at my parents' house in Tweed, having visited them after finishing up my school year at Concordia University in Montreal. I was a Habs fan. My apartment was about two blocks to the east of the old Forum, on St. Marc by the Faubourg. I knew there would be some pretty heavy partying if the Habs won against the Kings, and I regretted not being able to stick around for the games.
The view from my apartment along Ste.Catherine, 1993

I remember watching the game on television. As I recall it was a great game, and when they won I was pretty happy. I kept watching in that post-game glow, kind of biding the time and winding down to prepare for bed. I watched as Habs fans poured out of the Forum, out onto St. Catherine street, and started smashing windows and lighting cars on fire. I was absolutely gobsmacked as fans smashed the window on a Granada TV rental place right across the street from my apartment building.

Now, I didn't own a car, and my apartment was on the fifth floor, so they'd have to have pretty good aim to damage anything I owned there in Montreal, but I was mortified. I was so disappointed in the fans, and the people of Montreal for showing such an ugly side of themselves. I remember thinking 'but we WON', as if that made any difference. $2.5 million in damages later, and nearly 200 arrests, and for what?

Nothing. That's what. So I stopped watching hockey. I don't think I've caught a single game since, it bothered me that much.

That's probably why I didn't catch the riots the very next year in Vancouver, when rioters caused $1.1Mil in damage to the downtown.

Fast forward to yesterday, in Vancouver. I have lived in Vancouver as well, down by 16th and Granville, and found Vancouverites to be a little more sedate than Montrealers. They were courteous, polite, smart, and gave me the impression that their emotions were a little farther under the skin than the passionate Quebecois.

I have to admit I did not watch the last game of the Vancouver Boston series for the Stanley cup. I wasn't on the emotional roller coaster, the crazy whirlwind of feelings that the fans must have felt watching their team tank at the last minute, hearts no longer in it as the Bruins took home what they'd rightfully won. I wasn't there to feel how disappointed Vancouver fans were. I didn't feel the pain they felt, the sorrow, and the agony of having lost ... (er...  having watched someone else lose who was perhaps from another country or province or state and only brought to Vancouver by copious amounts of cash, but still wore the Vancouver jersey nonetheless) after pinning my hopes and dreams that the Stanley cup would be right there in MY CITY (for perhaps a couple of months after the win)

Perhaps there was something in the water. Perhaps there was something in the beer. I don't know, but I would like to steal a quote from Nisha Panchal, a Facebook friend-of-a-friend, who said: "paraphrasing someone smarter: "lose a game? burn shit. lose your country? sit on your ass and watch tv"

Amen. Where were these people when the Conservatives cut funding to arts organisations, to Katimavik, and to womens groups? Where were they when the government misappropriated $50Mil for the G-20summit? They were at home watching the game. Or another game. Or reruns of games. 

I do not condone violence. I have participated in protests, and many times have been fearful of the situation (2000, LA Democratic convention) but I never, no matter how emotionally charged the issue, EVER would have resorted to violence.

Look. Fans. I know that games are emotionally charged. I know that in your beer and testosterone fuelled stupor it feels like you need to punch something when you don't get your way, but grow up. You can't always get what you want. Perhaps if you paid more attention to what's really going on, and didn't get so caught up in a game, you'd avoid anger, and become empowered to start contributing to society in a meaningful way. Because burning shit when you don't get what you want is just plain stupid, and there's no explanation that prevents you looking like idiots.

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