By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
It’s common knowledge that baseball is not popular on the West coast. I can’t say for the entire country of Canada, because teams like the Toronto Blue Jays are household names, but even then I doubt that baseball in Toronto overcomes hockey in a popularity contest. Even Toronto’s basketball and football teams, from my point of view, would come out on top. It’s strange that baseball is so popular in the United States, but once you cross that border and head north, the popularity diminishes. Vanishes. And turns that vapor into a hockey-mad, brawling, riot trashing environment. But why?
Perhaps it’s because Canada only has one MLB baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. If there are no baseball teams across the country than how is it even possible for the sport to gain followers? We only have one major baseball team in our whole nation; you can’t expect the entire population of Canada to jump on board the baseball bandwagon. It’s not convenient for the over-privileged, iPhone consuming, public. There’s also the other point of view of the considerable risk there is of bringing an MLB team to a hockey mad city such as Vancouver. If baseball isn’t popular in Canada, why even bother trying? Is the risk worth it?
The Vancouver Canadians, being the Blue Jays affiliate team, are the closest baseball team Vancouver has to the big leagues. Yet, I never hear about them next to the Canucks, Whitecaps, and the BC Lions. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a particularly strong interest in baseball, but even still there isn’t a buzz in advertising to go see Canadians games around town. No commercials, posters, 2–for–1 deals, no nothing. Not being a baseball connoisseur, if there isn’t advertising to promote the sport I’m most definitely not going to randomly decide to go to a Canadians game. It’s just not going to happen.
Last year, I went to a baseball game in South Korea and couldn’t believe the environment there. Every single player on the home team had their own specific song that the crowd would cheer for, and every time the players went up to bat the fans in the stands would break out into song and dance for that player; the dedication and passion that these fans had for the game was unbelievable. Baseball to them is like what hockey is to us.
Hockey in Vancouver is almost like a religion. You don’t even have to be a fan of the Canucks and you can probably list a few players that you know on the team. It is engrained in the hearts of Canadians and therefore profitable in the well-developed market where baseball doesn’t hold the same cultural value. Less people attend the baseball games, which is why the sport is less profitable, has less advertising, and is less popular in Canada.