Sigmund Freud, who crafted himself a pretty good living out of the post-game analysis, once observed that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. He said this without needing to go back and look at the videotape, which puts him slightly ahead of many members of our current head-coaching roster.
And now, in the wake of the Canadian Anthem Flap (Volume 47), it feels like the appropriate time to trot out the corollary, as follows: Sometimes a moron is just a moron.
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Just a guess here, but I’m betting the people who booed the Canadian anthem never thought past the third beer.
Sometimes the Little League parent who trashes his kid in front of God and everybody else is just the fool in the rain. Sometimes the hockey goon who takes a physical game and turns it into pointless bloodsport is the stupid exception, not the reasonable rule.
And sometimes that embarrassing act by the fan in the stands is just that.
Give it a moment. It’ll pass.
There was a great temptation on the parts of the self-appointed guardians of human behaviour to make a mountain out of the molehill that was built the other night before the Pistons-Raptors game just outside Detroit, not far from the Canadian border. There, a group of remarkably vocal and undeniably clueless fans began booing during the playing of the Canadian anthem.
The timing was unfortunate. Strike that: The timing was insanely hideous. It occurred on the same day that funerals began in Canada for four soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan, victims of “friendly fire” when an American F-16 mistakenly bombed a cadre of Canadian troops.
You put those facts together, and you very quickly could conclude the worst about the moronics that emanated from the Palace stands.
You also — and let’s be very precise here — would be going one fact too far.
The thing about morons is this: It is impossible to give them too little credit. Yet in a situation like this one, the tendency is to go the other way — to assume, for example, that the booing in the stands and the burial of four soldiers could somehow be combined in a single thought pattern.
Sorry, no. Just a guess here, but I’m betting the people who booed the Canadian anthem never thought past the third beer. I’m betting the people who booed didn’t know Canadian soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan because I’m betting the people who booed didn’t know Canadian soldiers were in Afghanistan.
Can we be honest? A sports crowd doesn’t always strike you as the most thought-diverse crowd that can possibly be assembled, does it? If you’ve got four friends who love sports, then chances are you’ve got three who keep it in its enthusiastic proper place and one who’s simply nuts. That’s the guy you hear on talk radio. That’s the guy filling up the fan-site message board with expletive-laced misspellings. And that’s the guy who is the most likely to do something stupid at a game, like booing another nation’s anthem, not so much because he hates the nation but because he isn’t really smart, to begin with.
I suppose you can’t conduct an exit poll at an NBA arena to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?” but it might come in handy here. And I’m imagining that the response would fall somewhere very close to this: “Hey, man, I’m a Pistons fan!”
Detroit’s proximity to Canada could enter the equation here somewhere, along with the simultaneous fact of the Red Wings facing the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s first round (the wrong coast, I know, but you can’t have everything). Again, though, that’s probably stretching the thought pattern to the snap point.
There is no international perspective here, just some kooks in some seats who thought they’d have themselves a little hoot.
Don’t give these folks so much credit. They no more represent what Michiganders (or any other state’s residents) feel about things than did the colour guard that accidentally held the Canadian flag upside down during that World Series game a few years back. There is no international perspective here, just some kooks in some seats who thought they’d have themselves a little hoot.
Fans do what they’re going to do, and they speak for themselves. In a perfect world, the dopes who booed in Detroit would be cordoned off from the thousands of attendees at that game who did nothing of the kind.
Of course, in a perfect world, they’d start key games at times when people actually could watch them, and a family could afford to see the local team play more often than once every two years; and the athlete who plays honestly, who loves his wife and who doesn’t embarrass himself in public wouldn’t have to be lumped in the same category with the pill-poppers, serial impregnators and class clowns with whom he sometimes must share locker-room space.
What can you say? It looks like this world will have to do.
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