From a young age, Canadians are conditioned to revile racists. We look back on American slavery and wonder how life was really like that. We bemoan contemporary racism and wonder if the world will ever become truly egalitarian. I’m a pretty decent guy, but I know from personal experience that one aspect of my Canadian upbringing instilled in me a burning hatred for an identifiable group of people and wished nothing for them but the wrath of hell. I’m talking about the Ottawa Senators and their fans.
Ten years ago, if you had asked me if all Sens fans had horns and hoofed feet, I’d have said “no”, but I’d have given them no other benefit of the doubt. I couldn’t be sure Sens fans even existed: I had never seen one in real life, and even on TV their arena was filled with Leaf fans loudly booing whenever alfredsson (that gutless puke) touched the puck. I had no reason on earth to believe somebody actually liked that team, yet I hated that theoretical person all the same. When the Senators signed a player, I hated him overnight. This went on unchecked for years, as my friends were just as racist.
My first encounter with an actual flesh-and-blood Senator fan happened in 2003, while my hate was at a late stage of maturation. Though I didn’t expect a Sens fan to behave with civility or dignity (these concepts utterly foreign to the organization) I behaved well and the meeting didn’t end in carnage, though it started off rocky. I moved into my dorm during first year university, and immediately put up my Leafs’ flag when in walked my neighbour.
“Nice to meet you. Hey, why are you putting up that piece of shit?”
“Where are you from…neighbour?”
Just like that. He didn’t seem to be suffering any certifiable mental condition detectable at first glance, so I looked again. Still nothing. Maybe something was wrong in his frontal lobes, but he looked like a normal human being.
Over the year, I developed a friendship with this curious species fuelled by intense rivalry and beer. To be sure, however amiable, a part of me hated a part of him. We shared laughs and violent shouting matches in equal measure. But like mushrooms after a rainstorm, more Sens fans appeared. It took a year among their kind to realise that, in actual fact, Senator fans are people. For years, I dehumanized their fans and their players (sometimes fairly), but the sample of fans I met turned out to be good Canadian boys who simply had the severe misfortune of growing up in Ottawa. I had to admit: my neighbour, and others of his race, were decent.
The roster still comprised soulless guttersnipes, but I was racially more sensitive and newly convinced my hatred wasn’t blinding. I had reversed my all encompassing hate and learned to give a fair appraisal of the team. “Volchenkov can block a shot.” Wholly unbiased now, my opinion was fair, balanced and commendable. I had reformed and was tremendously capable of praise when it was warranted…it just wasn’t. That year, following another epic post season Senator collapse, the Leafs eliminated the hated rival for the fourth time. 4/4. Those who remember the game see Lalime clearly in their mind’s eye. Ahh, glory days!
Meeting Senator fans has enabled me to gain perspective on a disturbing time in my personal history, but my racism was of a variety that I suspect all Canadian hockey fans have to some degree. Still, I look back on these years of unbridled hate with regret. I am grateful for the contact I had with good people who gave me a chance to reform. Now I can view them as dignified human beings, and they have made me a better person for it. That said, I do have some final observations:
Chris Neil is a cheapshot artist who seriously looks inbred.
On five occasions, Jason Spezza has contaminated out heroic National team by failing to win gold even once.
Despite just yesterday writing a lengthy argument for unequivocal free speech, I’m afraid of what I’ll put into print if I candidly write about daniella alfredsson [sic]. I have not cooled one bit after his vicious hit from behind on Tucker from game 5, 2002. He should still be suspended without pay.