National Post columnist Jonathan Kay is outraged that so many people are outraged with the Maple Leafs.
I’m very sorry that the Leafs (apparently) aren’t heading to the playoffs. And no doubt, well-apprised fans have all sorts of ideas for improving the team’s performance. But when did we, as a society, decide that losing at sports is some kind of moral sin — one that requires public shaming, histrionic lamentations, and the sort of grand appeals for “forgiveness” (Feschuk’s word) that we more traditionally associate with the legacy of Indian residential schools? Feschuk informs me that a pair of Leafs gold-section season tickets cost $16,000 per year. That’s a lot of money. But anyone who pays that price isn’t “owed” anything — except the right to be admitted to the arena and watch 60 minutes of NHL hockey.
You expect people to get crazy and irrational in the actual heat of sporting competition. What is the act of “rooting for laundry” after all, except an institutionalized, socially acceptable outlet for the thinly suppressed tribal passions and hatreds encoded in our evolutionary psychology? Instead of Hutus and Tutsis, Sunnis and Shiites, we’re Leafs and Canadiens, Cowboys and Steelers. I get that. And in the immediate agony of defeat, it makes sense that we would demand abject “apologies” from our tribal overlords for shaming us in our failed show-battles against rival tribes. But once the players file into their dressing room, it’s time for people to wake up to the amoral reality of modern professional sports. Losing isn’t a sin, just as winning doesn’t make us all better people. No one owes you an apology just because the lions ate the wrong gladiator.
In a related story, Jonathan Kay is a real hit at parties.