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Sports to unify world!

by Archives January 31, 2001
The other day I noticed a few things. I noticed that life is tough… I might be losing my job, I miss my sister since she moved to Toronto last fall, and the winter gets colder and drearier every year.
I remarked that the roads are full of pot-holes, and that I lose almost half my paycheque to taxes every couple of weeks. I noticed that people can be difficult, if not sometimes downright nasty to each other for almost no reason at all.
I realized that life can suck sometimes.
But a few good things also dawned on me: There’s always more jobs, my sister can
always visit, and my new jacket keeps me nice and warm, regardless of the weather.
Hey, the roads may be full of pot-holes, but they’ll eventually get repaired (maybe), and if I try hard enough, I can delude myself into believing that my tax money will somehow get back to me in the form of some sort of grand social service!
But the people… well that’s another story.
See, the problem is that most people just don’t give a sh*t about others unless they somehow have a direct effect on their lives.
The trick, I’ve found, is to find a common ground, and for myself and many others that common ground is in the world of sports.
Forget politics. We certainly know as Quebecers that politics are not a way to unite, so much as divide at all costs in this part of the country.
What about music? Well, considering that 90% of the stuff on the radio is pre-package, no-talent junk that’s dismissed by most, music’s not such a great way to get people to talk. Besides, I can’t hear anything with my Discman on at full volume anyway.
Theater? Television? Movies? No, those aren’t exactly interactive scenes.
But sports, on the other hand offer a myriad of opportunities to unite, debate, discuss, let out steam, and relax.
It’s funny how a logo like the famous “CH” on the Montreal Canadiens’ jersey, or the “NY” on a Yankees’ cap can help spark pleasant conversations, and sometimes heated debates without any provocation.
If two people wearing Expos hats happen to see each other on the street, it’s not uncommon to see a smile exchanged, or to hear either party utter “nice cap,” under their breath upon passing.
But that’s just the fashion standpoint of the sporting world.
What about the games themselves? Where else can you see almost 20,000 Montrealers, regardless of creed, culture or political alignment scream and yell together in ecstasy, than at Molson Stadium during an Alouettes victory? Forget
rallies in the downtown core, the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade, or the Just for Laughs Festival.
At no other event will 45,000 plus Montrealers sing the Canadian National Anthem together than at opening day at the Big O.
It’s not about what they sing, so much as the fact that they will sing together just to celebrate each other and the institution of the Montreal Expos. An organization that travels around North America with the word “Montreal”
displayed proudly on the chests of the athletes that represent it and it’s fans.
Then there’s the competitions where hundreds of thousands of people from this city compete against both each other and representatives of other cities at the amateur level.
We unite in small groups and play dozens of different sports at different levels of competition for exercise, fun, and camaraderie. Just look at the Concordia intramural sports leagues for an example close to home. People who would otherwise never even know each other go into battle together and form, in many
cases, life long friendships and healthy rivalries because of the opportunities to do so through sports.
It’s not that I think the cure to all the world’s pain and suffering can be solved by a basketball and hoop, but that on a planet so often ravaged by hatred, disrespect, and reckless behaviour, things like healthy competition and recognition through sports can’t hurt.
Look at the respect we get as Montrealers because we are home to the most storied franchise in North American sports, the Canadiens. Look at the happiness the Als’ have caused since they came back to the city in the mid-nineties, and how desperately thousands of people want the Expos to stay so they can have
something to root for.
In a city that has been embattled over political strife and economic uncertainty
for decades, we still have a common ground on which to live and work together in the sporting world.
And even if our taxes will never actually get those potholes fixed, at least we can take our frustrations out on pucks and balls, rather than each other.

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