Enjoying sports without paying attention year-round is fine
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Vancouver is a city of sports bandwagoners. We only cheer the Canucks when they’re ahead, we only pay attention to the Whitecaps when soccer is fashionable in North America, and we only care about baseball when Toronto somehow starts winning.
It’s pretty hard to argue with the raw numbers that prove it. Low turnout at Canucks games when we’re behind, extremely high turnout when we make it to Game Seven. We get disproportionately passionate when we’re paying attention, like that one time some Vancouverites got so mad at Boston that people rioted and burned down a bus… but maybe it’s not a bad thing. Or at the very least, it’s understandable. The bandwagoning, I mean, not the bus-burning.
Getting into sports is much less a passive thing than many sports fans believe. It’s a real hobby, like playing Magic: The Gathering, or being a huge movie buff. It requires a lot of time just to memorize the names of players on your home team, let alone players on other teams or in other leagues. It can be a really major time commitment, even if it doesn’t feel like one, because so much of that information is absorbed through TV after a long day of work or at the bar during dinner, and then processed during the games themselves. And then there’s the financial barrier, with tickets being so expensive in Vancouver that it’s only worth the price for regular season games if you’re already invested in that particular game with those particular players.
So why do so many people get invested at all in this city? Due to the diverse and multicultural nature of the city, I think many Vancouverites actively resist the human need for tribalism. Sports are a way to create, and join, an “in-group” not based around the normal things like ethnicity or class. It lets us get all “patriotic” and expressive about our love for Vancouver (and Canada at large during the Olympics) without the guilt of knowing how damaging rampant patriotism is the rest of the year. Also, it gives a chance to exercise our combination inferiority/superiority complex by throwing the worst insults at Americans and Toronto.
Ultimately, most people in Vancouver just don’t have the inclination to be involved in something as intensive as sports. Only rooting for the Canucks at playoffs or only watching the Whitecaps when they’re fashionable is a way to have fun with other Vancouverites without participating in sports as a hobby. It’s about the community, not the sport itself.