Nope. This is not a post on the burgeoning rivalry with our friends in San Jose, though it would be nice if the two fanbases would just enjoy the wonderful hockey and ignore the invective and hyperbole that seems to become the norm with fans of rival teams.
That is to be expected, I guess. Mostly, its good clean fun, and a little banter that gets taken too far by some over enthusiastic fans on both sides. Canuck fans and others could learn to dial it back a bit. Hell, myself included. Its a passionate, violent game, and that brings out aggressiveness. So, we can expect sometimes that things are said inappropriately.
But the events that came to light after a recent game at the Shark Tank, when a young Canuck fans living in San Jose, present a dichotomy that I thought just had to be added to the "EmbraceTheHate series.
I warn you, it might make you mad. After the break.
Here is the story in a nutshell. The opening paragraph outlines what happened ;
Maggie Herger, 16, couldn't have been prouder to don a Vancouver Canucks shirt to root for her beloved hockey team against the Sharks in San Jose. Four years earlier in her native Canada, after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor, a hospital visit from Canucks players raised her spirits and helped her recover.
At Wednesday's game, however, the high school junior suffered another frightening brain trauma. Maggie said she suffered a concussion after a drunken Sharks fan who had been harassing her smacked her in the head.
...explains it pretty well, but that is not what this post is about. Read the comments on the above linked story. The majority there are aghast, upset, and just want it taken care of.
Now, here is the Globe and Mail, supposedly Canada's "National" newspaper, and their story on the same events. It is less detailed, and leaves out a lot of salient points that the local paper did, including the fact she was recovering from a tumor and was hit in the head.
Now read the comments there. It made me sad. I realize that some other Canadian fanbases hate ours and our team. I am fine with that, actually. I have tried to make my peace with it, and hope that even though I have let some of it get to me occasionally even now, I would like to think the Finals last year taught me a lesson about embracing hatred.
But this? It has to be about the worst example I have seen of that hatred. From fellow Canadians. Remember that when we talk of hating this team or the other. Because this is not even a story about hockey and the game, except for the fact that the incident occurred there. This is a fine example of what happens when you take what was once fun banter and perhaps the tribalism that sport engenders too far.
I would like to thank the Sharks fans that have spoken up. ( It kind of puts Jumbo Joe's "finger wag" to Henrik Sedin perspective, doesn't it? ) The follow up story, as there always is one, is also enlightening. All the girl and her family want is an apology. Thats it. Not the litigiousness that wags would dismiss this as. How very Canadian of them.
Its a shame then that what is probably a majority of Canadian fans in our "National" paper that took the time to give us their thoughts show so much less empathy, and so much more, frankly, bizarre hatred. It seems misplaced with our self image as Canadians.
Thanks Sharks Fans. It seems others have "jumped the shark", but its nice to see that some folks can remind themselves that it is just a game.
A great game, the best game. One that we all love. A shame that common love also has an ugly side.