The distressed state of Toronto’s sports psyche

As any Toronto sports fan will tell you, this is definitely not a city of winners but of whiners.

And before anyone goes on the attack, it’s my hometown. I know how pathetic it’s been.

No one — not the Leafs, Jays, Raptors, Argos and TFC — has stepped up and even had a whiff of success in a decade. In the Leafs’ case, try 45 years.

It grates on people. All this losing, losing, losing. Can’t at least ONE of our professional teams do anything right to at least save us from ourselves?

The hapless Argos are practically irrelevant. The Raptors an afterthought. The Jays perennial also-rans. TFC: 5 years, zero playoff games, ’nuff said. Only the Leafs franchise is bullet-proof. It still gets the lion’s share of attention — and shameful gobs of cash — despite their dismal failure over the decades. When it comes to them, we’re masochists or just plain suckers.

And the athletes? Is there any sports figure on the Toronto scene to get pumped about?  To develop some kind of Vin/Lin/Dougie sanity or mania?

Hardly.

Toronto’s losing teams are led by as bland a crop of athletes as there ever was in this town. Kessel. Phaneuf. Barnagni. DeRozan. Bautista (slightly less bland). Lawrie (here’s hoping.)

The years of constant failure have adversely affected the social psychological landscape of sports and success in this town. The losing has turned us into a bunch of cranky, toxic whiners resulting in an overwhelmingly negative background noise that plays itself out on our multitude of media outlets.  The ceaseless drone of which (insert Toronto team or player here) sucks at the moment creates a deeply felt downward spiral. It’s been so unrelenting and gone on for so long that even the concept of winning feels alien; like it’s temporary, as in a dream — until we snap out of it and reality hits us like another soft Gustavsson goal.  

Every season it seems the Leafs find new ways to separate themselves from the pack, only in the wrong direction. This year, a cranky, unpopular coach lost his job and was practically run out of town due to a slump of epic proportions. The blowhard GM faces the fans’ wrath daily; the players, even the so-called “stars” are constantly discussed merely as trade bait. Not signs of a team on the upswing.

And so it goes. Another season down the toilet with now the very real hope/possibility that the Maples may go down to the wire with the equally disastrous Canadiens over which team is worse thus qualifying for a lottery pick. So, something to look forward to for all the tank-nation types.  A prize for being the biggest loser.

The Raptors are barely worth a mention but losing, and lots of it, was expected. The occasional time they do show some grit hanging in games under coach Wayne Casey’s  direction. Things may get a little more interesting next year with a good 2012 draft pick and the debut of their 2011 first round pick Jonas Valanciunas who’s now in Lithuania.

The Jays have had an incredible spring training as hope always springs eternal at the start of baseball season. Let’s see where they are in August. It’s been 19 years since they’ve had a taste of the post-season but with two extra teams now able to qualify for a shot at the playoffs, a faint hope perhaps.

Finally, there’s TFC who began their fifth season with an embarrassing loss. This after the country’s largest paper sang their many praises in a splashy season primer, saying this will finally be the year they make the playoffs for the first time.

It may happen.

But the toxic cloud of bad luck and bad karma hanging over Toronto’s sports scene could have something to say about it.

It’s gone beyond players, coaches, managers and organizations, this losing curse. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry, after trying everything, can’t get rid of a putrid smell that’s invaded his car.

“Don’t you understand what I’m saying to you? This … THING isn’t just an odour. You need a priest to get rid of this thing!”

Maybe T.O.’s sports teams do too.

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About Rolf Sturm

Sportswriter & blogger, news writer, video journalist, photographer, podcaster
This entry was posted in Hockey and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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