Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I'm Surprised They Didn't Burn The Whole Country Down

USA Today reports in today's issue that angry football fans in Saskatchewan vandalized a kicker's home after the home team's kicker missed a chip shot that would have advanced his team in the playoffs. Click here to read all about it.

This event, while lamentable, makes one wonder at a whole bunch of different levels.

First, it's never been argued that football is a huge sport in Canada, although some friends up north have advised that it's the number two sport next to ice hockey. Which leads to a few questions. One, why isn't the rest of Canada furious over the absence of the NHL, and why aren't they showing any emotion about it? Of course, the failure to show emotion the way the fans in Saskatchewan did is probably a good thing, but you would figure that if they had an NHL franchise there these same diehards would have torched the local arena in protest against the collective silliness of players and owners. Memo to Gary Bettman: consider putting a franchise in Saskatchewan. Memo to Paul Tagliabue or the big Arena Football guy: you might want to consider the same.

Perhaps, again, the reason for the lack of protest in Canada is that because of currency differentials the local NHL teams haven't dominated the way they did 20+ years ago, which means that the NHL hockey played there is second-tier stuff. The same way American hoop fans love college basketball because of its purity, perhaps the NHL isn't that missed in Canada because the fans still have their junior hockey, and that hockey always has had a big following. And, it may be that NHL fans in Canada need a year off to rest their eyes from having to view the sartorial dyspepsia that Don Cherry delivers weekly on "Hockey Night in Canada."

But taking out a missed kick on a player's personal property? In Canada? America's gentle neighbor to the north? I suppose if the Boston Red Sox could win the World Series, anything's possible.

So, before American football fans start yelling that the New York Jets fans are nuts, or that the Philadelphia Eagles' fans are crazy, remember, that to the best of anyone's knowledge, they haven't crossed the line into a player's personal space and booed him in a supermarket, taken a bat to his mailbox, ridding a motorcycle on his lawn or put animal waste on the porch.

Still, if I were David Akers, the Philadelphia Eagles' Pro Bowl kicker, I might change my address to a P.O. Box, as the Eagles' fans are so hungry for a Super Bowl appearance that who knows what they'd do if their beloved Birds fall short again this year. While many things in America, good and bad, take root in California, let's hope that for all professional athletes' sakes this awful display of disappointment remains in Saskatchewan.

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