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Posted: 2022-01-25 13:39:54 By: thebay

I confess, I’ve never been a huge fan of (western) football. Over the years, I have supported all my hometown teams. I have, since 1994, been a huge Leafs fan, and am now on anti-depressants. Reluctantly, I fell into the maelstrom of frenzied fandom when the Buffalo Bills first made it to their first Superbowl, back in ’91; the one they lost by the skin of their teeth. I was at a loud and raucous Superbowl party, and you could hear a pin drop when, in a nail-biter against the New York Giants, Bills field goal kicker, Scott Norwood hooked one wide right in the last seconds of the game and the Bills snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I decided right then and there that fandemonium was not for me. I’ll always remember the notorious cartoon which appeared in fax machines in every Buffalo place of business the day after that soul-sucking defeat. It depicted Scott Norwood at a urinal (from behind) pishing wide right. Hardy har har.

The fact is, losing is hard in any sport, for the fans and for the players. The more frenzied the enthusiasm is, the more painful the defeat. We all want to believe in our team. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion about the fairness of sudden death touchdowns in NFL overtime games, especially when, as in the game last night, both teams seemed so evenly matched. As one of my early hockey coaches used to say, quoting Vince Lombari: “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser". I always hated that expression. No one plays to lose. Yes, the Bills did allow Kansas City to score in the last 15 seconds of a game they were winning. I guess I’m a loser, because I have never enjoyed a game more, or been so exhilarated, and I’m proud of the way my hometown team played. Why do some of us take those losses so personally? It’s as if it vicariously fills some void in us, this need to win, and sometimes it brings out the worst in us. I wouldn’t have wanted to be Scott Norwood after that notorious game in ‘91. No one cares about all the things you did right, they just remember the last thing you did wrong.

New Jersey Devils hockey star P.K. Subban was outspoken about racial taunts hurled at his brother Jordan by an opposing team member during a minor league hockey game last weekend. Sadly, we once again revisit the foul underbelly of pro sports. Some will argue that we should all leave our politics off the ice or playing field, but that Subban story just reminds me that it is impossible to do. I keep reading about the bad behaviour of out-of-control parents hurling racial epithets at minority players during minor league events. It’s shameful. What kind of lesson does that teach our children? Although women are playing championship-winning hockey, soccer, etc., statistically much better than their male counterparts, how much financial support are we giving our female athletes in comparison to our male athletes? Nada. I am sure that I will get at least one nasty response from some reader who will say I am stating the obvious, that I am a clueless, naïve white male who has no idea how the other half lives. Maybe, but I had great parents who taught me to respect everyone until anyone gives me ample reason not to do so.

Especially right now, we’re all at the end of our ropes. Small businesses are failing, people have lost loved ones, and their sense of self-worth, the world is divided into a thousand tribes of people who believe one thing or another, and the failure to communicate has reached epidemic proportions. To be honest, I’m not sure of anything anymore, because there is A LOT of “information” out there. I’ve lost the ability to trust most of it.  But I haven’t lost my ability to love. I wish there was some universal truth that was beyond reproach, some source that everyone could respect. Sadly, for our species, the only motto seems to be that might makes right. You’re either a winner or you’re a loser, no middle ground. The orange and bloated vermin who recently desecrated the office of POTUS, reinforced that ill-considered motto, firmly if subliminally entrenching it in our psyches. In fact, it should be the opposite: right makes might, but who is to say what is right? Our moral compass is spinning like a second hand. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone on the radio implore us all to be kind. Of course, I say! But why is that so hard? Why do we even need to say it?!? The answer is that sometimes to be kind is just too hard, and we are increasingly losing our ability to do the hard thing.

To me, it boils down to this. If our belief requires us to hate something or someone, be it a team, a race, or simply a person, then we should seriously examine the root of that hatred. What is hardwired in us that perpetuates that mindset?

The Taylor family has a relationship rule. I suppose it is the extension of the old directive: never go to bed angry with your partner. Work it out. I am reminded of a great song by Sarah Harmer: “Don’t Get Your Back Up”. The Taylor family has added to that wise policy: whoever is on the “right” side of the argument has to apologize to the one who is wrong. Since that is often hard to determine, especially when egos get in the way, the one who thinks he or she is right needs to man (or woman) up and apologize to the other. I have yet to fully embrace the zen of this practice, but I’m slowly learning.

Everyone has a different truth, we all have different beliefs, we all back different teams. Before you finish this article and decide that I am stupid and naïve, which both may or may not be true, I implore you to consider turning the other cheek, just to exercise that atrophied muscle. When your team loses, hopefully they gave it all they had, and you can be proud of that. Believing that does not make one a loser. 

Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED