Are The Vancouver Canucks Canada's Team? Who Gives a Crap?
Are The Vancouver Canucks Canada's Team? What Does That Even Mean? And Seriously, Who Gives a Crap?
With each win, the Vancouver Canucks appear closer to winning the 2011 Stanley Cup and with each passing day, there seems to be another media story asking if the Vancouver Canucks are "Canada's Team."
It seems that many media members have decided to focus on a meaningless question that is impossible to prove. And why not? There isn't much else going on in the world.
How Did This Whole Canucks as Canada's Team Debate Start?
The debate appears to have been kicked off by Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones. In a piece entitled 'The Canucks are NOT Canada's team, Jones writes that no one outside of Vancouver gives a Flying-V about the Canucks' 2011 playoff run. If anything, many Canadians are cheering against them.
He then quotes a Finnish journalist based in Vancouver, who goes on to say that the city is not really Canadian. Because, y'know, if you want to learn something about Vancouver, who better to ask than a guy from Finland?
"It's not just a climate thing but attitude. This is more Northern California than Canada. Nothing bad about that, but I think outsiders see it as yuppie, expensive and shallow. It's just different. There are more Starbucks than Tim Hortons, more sushi than chicken noodle.
Here's a guess as to how this happened with the Edmonton Sun story: Jones, a doughy white guy from Alberta, noticed that he and his doughy white guy friends weren't really paying a lot of attention to the Canucks 2011 playoff run. Failing to realize that there are people in the world who may not think and act like him, he decided to write about it.
Instead of writing a half-baked opinion piece, Jones interviews someone who basically says everything that he wanted to say, but couldn't because he has to pretend to be a real journalist. Jones finds some guy from Finland who provides him with all the quotes he needs. Jones then spends the rest of the day writing a travel piece on Helsinki featuring interviews with people from Red Deer.
The Inevitable Reaction
After Jones' piece, it was only a matter of time before Vancouver journalists provided a few bowls of stereotype-filled tripe.
Pete McMartin of the Vancouver Sun wrote:
Not that we hold any of that against you, rest of Canada. You are who you are, and we are who we are.
All we would ask of you is don't hate us because we're beautiful.
Oh, who am I kidding?
Go ahead. Hate us.
We don't care.
In fact, we revel in it.
Because we have a dance to go to, and you don't, poor thing
Quite a day at the office for McMartin. He reacts to a piece filled with stereotypes with even more stereotypes, then tells people to suck it.
Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail decided that to pile on with more caricatures.
The fact is, as cities go, many Canadians view Vancouver as effete, a metropolis made up of snotty, latte swilling, cargo-shorts wearing, too-cool-for-school yuppies for whom pleasure and real estate remain their only abiding concerns.
Plus, Vancouver just put on the Olympics, you can hear some say. Why should it get to host a Stanley Cup parade as well? (Answer: Because Montreal and Calgary also got to after they staged the Olympics.)
Really? You can hear some people say that the Canucks shouldn't win the Stanley Cup because they just hosted the Olympics? You can actually hear that? If you could actually hear someone say that, shouldn't you have gotten that person's name and asked him or her some follow-up questions? No, because that would actually require some effort, wouldn't it?
Mason eventually concedes that the whole Canada's Team debate "is mostly anecdotal." Replace the word "mostly" with "entirely" and you've got a start.
A well-intentioned Vancouver writer defended the Canucks by writing that the team is not Canada's team, but the world's.
His reasoning? The Canucks have a long history of international players on its roster and the current team features players from Canada, the US, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Denmark.
I'm no expert, but having players from six countries in North America and Europe may not qualify the Canucks as the world's team. I don't have a map in front me, but I'm fairly certain that there are more than six countries on earth.
But what do I know? I'm sure that when the Canucks win the Stanley Cup, the celebrations on Robson Street will be dwarfed by ones in Guanghzhou, Bangalore and Johannesburg.
You think the streets of Rio de Janeiro are crazy during Carnival? Wait until they hear about how Henrik Sedin had four assists in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. People in Rio are going to go nuts, especially those who picked Sedin in their playoff hockey pool.
Who Gives a Crap?
The only thing you need to know about the Canucks as Canada's Team debate is that it is entirely manufactured by the media. The idea that there could be a "Canada's Team" is impossible to prove in any real way. Newspapers might as well write editorials about the existence of unicorns. All it is a nice easy way to fill space in a newspaper, kill time on talk radio, and take time away from you enjoying some pretty good hockey.
A Stanley Cup run can last close to two months and the media are desperate for something to talk about. A couple of weeks back, at least one media outlet reported that some members of the Canucks took public transit to the airport to catch their flight to Nashville. Who would have thought? A group of people went to the airport using a transportation system designed to take people to the airport.
Local media members often resort to stupid provincial bullshit to keep themselves busy during a playoff run. During last year's World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants, one Texas reporter went to great lengths to talk about how he smelled weed in San Francisco, a friendly reminder to the folks back home that the Bay Area is full of liberal, transvestite stoners.
This sort of stuff pops up all the time internet chatrooms and YouTube comment threads, but you would hope that relatively well-paid journalists--ones who often deride writing on the web--have something better to do than start cross-country flame-wars.
But no. Such stories are too good to resist. They require no work and get a huge reaction from the public. You do no research, posit a theory that can't be proven or debunked, throw up some lame web poll to prove your point, and you're good to go.
Terry Jones probably churned out that story in a couple of hours and can now brag to his editors about all the buzz he created. Most modern folk would say his story went 'viral' but we're guessing he doesn't know what means.
The next time you hear a radio, TV or newspaper report raise the bogus Canucks as Canada's Team debate, just react as you would if you were reading it on the Internet: please don't feed the trolls.