Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Canadian Celebration

There are very few celebrations in Canadian sport that in 2016 remain uniquely and unequivocally  Canadian. The Grey Cup is the event that stand outs for most Canadians as the Canadian Football League, league in which awards the Grey Cup, has had a prestigious history, you grow up in Canada and surely you have some affiliation or story pertaining to the yearly event. After watching bits and pieces from the National Basketball Association which claiming that I watched a semblance of a game I generally consider unbearable is a remarkable feat, but back to my tangent, from watching the game tonight I took issue with the entertainment in the lead up to the game and further yet the anthems. Now you're asking yourself, what's the tie in to the Grey Cup? The tie in, and the reason I brought the Grey Cup into the equation is because their's a bigger cultural and societal faux pas that us  Canadians seem to wrongfully accept and that is not celebrating sustainable, billboard material talent in our home grown sporting events.

The 2016 NBA All-star game is being hosted in Toronto, Ontario. The principle of an all-star event such as this is to market and celebrate the& great basketball players of this era, which the Association did and have always done a masterful job of doing. The heroes in the basketball community, such as Lebron James, Klay Thompson and fellow splash brother Steph Curry who has some ties to the greater Toronto area got out in the community, connected with the local media and embraced the event for what it is, a showcase to the wonderful fans. The basketball players undoubtedly fulfilled their end of the bargain but the question in peril is did the organizing committee fulfill theirs?

I'm going to construct an argument that goes for all Canadian sporting showcases, such as the aforementioned Grey Cup but will use specific examples from this weekend's All-star game to make my case, and that is why do we restrict ourselves primarily to Canadian acts at the expense of luring in global acts that are more deserving of the moment? The  Canadian national anthem tonight sung by Nelly Furtado has got a lot of flack as I've perused through twitter, some even drawing hilarious comparisons to the infamous 'O Christmas Tree' melody based rendition in a Las Vegas CFL game back in the early nineties. The rendition although quirky isn't drawing my wrath so much as why out of all possible acts was Furtado granted with such a humbling honour? Was this the 1996 All-star game or 2016 because the height of Furtado's stardom happened then and it's been all downhill since. This game was brought to Toronto by Tim, the former President of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, a conglomerate that brings in a wealth  of finances along with the duel effort of telecommunications networks Bell and Rogers with the assumed financial assistance of the league itself, and all the league could muster up was Furtado? That's a joke and all parties should be embarrassed. Sting for the half-time show? I'm not convinced Sting in 2016 is substantial enough headline material for a local Elementary school talent showcase, let alone a professional sporting all-star extravaganza. Over exaggeration, sure but the implied point remains and that is in a sport where revenue is endless, give the fans something they enjoy.  As a disclaimer, I will admit that the timing may not have been ideal as the Grammys take place tomorrow(Monday the 15th) but nonetheless the expectation is to secure top acts with long advancement notice.

The all-star game is a yearly one-off, an event that only came to Toronto for the first time this year, so the hope is they will learn from their mistakes and up their entertainment game when the city of Toronto is fortunate enough to host this event again but I feel the need to discuss the misnomer that most Canadians have and that is just because you host an event does NOT mean you need to have a Canadian headliner. The Grey Cup is guilty ever as recent headliners have as a general rule been Canadian citizens. The necessity of this could be fiercely debated but my opinion is that you bring over the best act possible, Canadian,American, Swedish, Dutch, Chinese etc etc...bottom line is it doesn't matter. It's factual that a lot of Americans view the Canadian Football League as Pop warner, jokish football but we must examine why. Crummy football? The football admittedly isn't top calibre but the uniqueness of our game conceivably should draw fans in. I have a different thought on why Americans have the sometimes correct opinion pertaining to our league and it draws a parallel to the thesis of the article, and that's  how we brand our showcase event, the Grey Cup. When audiences tune in to the night, particularly those who won't give a flying patootie about the league from June-November and see the likes of Imagine Dragons, Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber and Hedley, what thoughts filter in their head? As the old adage goes, "just get them through the door and they will stay" aptly applies to my logic here as in television terms, attract a Bruno Mars to play your half time show and the non CFL supporter may stay tuned in and learn our Canadian game. 

The Super Bowl doesn't restrict itself to American propaganda, The World Cup of Soccer doesn't restrict it's entertainment to that of the particular hosting nationality, what did us Canadians do to have such strict ground rules when celebrating what should be a great day in Canada? The answer, nothing at all.

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