Sens, Habs, Leafs: Is it a father thing?

aspiring-senI live in a stewpot of ice hockey rivalry.

Our home team, Ottawa Senators, begins playoff action on Thursday. Also in the playoffs this year: the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.

Here’s the issue: the Ottawa Senators, the best hockey team ever, hasn’t been around for long. (Sorry, did I reveal my bias?) They played their first game of their modern era in 1992. Before that, residents of this area cheered for either the Leafs of the Canadiens. When the Sens came along, some fans chose not to evolve. (Sorry, there’s my bias again.) They clung to their Leafs/Canadiens allegiances instead of cheering for the team that gives an unquestioned economic boost to our area.

Now, the big problem is this: at Ottawa home games against either the Leafs or the Canadiens, support for the opposition often means that goals against Ottawa get louder cheers than those for the home team.

There is no scale to measure how irritating that is to me.

Some of those fans travel from out of town to the games, which is just fine; they are cheering for their home team. It’s the people who live in Ottawa but cheer for other teams that perplex me. Because I find it so irritating, I’ve studied the phenomenon: Why do people cheer for a team other than the hometown team? I really want to know.

I have found it’s often a father thing. “My father cheered for the Leafs, so I cheer for the Leafs.” Or, “My dad and I used to go to games at the Forum. I have great memories of those times.”

I’m here to tell you that it is possible to honour those fond memories and support the home team. It can be done. I would argue it should be done.

My husband’s father was born in Cabbagetown. He watched Maple Leaf Gardens being built. As a teenager, he hung around outside the Gardens waiting to catch a glimpse of the players. Sometimes they handed him a stick. When he got older and finally could afford it, he had season tickets. You don’t get much Leaf-ier than that.

My husband was born in Toronto and lived there until he was 10 years old. He remembers his parents heading out to see the Leafs play. He cherishes those memories—and he cheers for the Sens. One of the many things I love about him.

The best thing economically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for my hometown is Ottawa Senators success. No matter what my parental influences, why would I wish for anything else?

Come to think of it, my father was a Leafs fan, but when the Ottawa Senators came along, he cheered with his whole heart for them. I guess it really is a father thing.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on April 30, 2013, in Inspiration and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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