Monday, November 19, 2012

Perception and Reality: Life As A Leafs Fan

Suzy: "I've always wanted to be an orphan.  Most of my favourite characters are.  I think your lives are more special."

Sam: "I love you but you don't know what you're talking about."

Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson's latest piece of dry whimsy.  His protagonists, Sam and Suzy, are a pair of 12-year olds who run away from their respective guardians to be alone and together.  Sam is an orphan and Suzy is a lover of teen fantasy-fiction where unusual life circumstances seem to be a prerequisite for heroic figures.  The first time we see Sam tell Suzy he loves her is preceded by an exchange that shows how little Suzy probably understands him.  Her books tell her that orphans lead charmed lives but Sam, who's lived as one, knows otherwise.

I sometimes feel like this is what it's like to be a Leafs fan.  We have a fantastic and rich history; our rafters are full of Stanley Cup banners, and the Hall of Fame is full of our heroes.  Those outside of Leafs Nation tell us that this should be our consolation when things are tough.

After a bad season or two, they may be right.  Maybe we could look back on Sundin, Gilmour, Sittler, Keon, Mahovlich, Kennedy, and Apps and feel that things weren't so bad.  After 8-years of futility, these names have become small comfort.

As sports fans, our currency is hope.  History and tradition round out the fan experience but they're no substitute for success.  Sports, at its core, is an escapist exercise, and it takes a particular breed of individual to subject themselves to an elective flogging.

But that's what we do, time and again.

That isn't to say that there's no cause for hope.  We're a team who can spend to the cap every year and should be able to lure free agents -- in theory.  We have prospects with some promise and a goalscorer in Phil Kessel who's worth the price of admission.  But even with those things, there's absolutely no substitute for winning.

After 8 seasons of poor performance, we've become the lovable losers of the NHL.  Only our most bitter rivals can still be considered rivals at all -- everyone else pities us.  We get the metaphorical hair mussing and get told to hang in there.  Being a Leafs fan is a special thing and at least we've got our legacy.

Well, thanks.  I love you but you don't know what you're talking about. 

No comments: