Canadian Sports: The source of unity in a melting pot nation

Written by: Arthty Ragupathy


Source: Toronto Star

Equality is the goal for a diverse nation such as Canada, however religious, political and cultural differences are undoubtedly present. Unity is achieved when individuals are able to put such differences aside in order to merge for the purpose of a mutual interest. This is the effect that sports has on Canada; facilitating unity and establishing a common ground upon which sports fans can join to support their nation’s teams. The love for sports allows for the emergence of togetherness amongst Canadians.

There are several professional sports teams in Canada branching from varying sports leagues, some of which include the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), Canadian Football League (CFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

When speaking about hockey, it is safe to say the topic emerges as one that is characteristically Canadian. The sport is wide reaching, embraced by the country via year-long media coverage. Although Canadians have the option of tuning into a radio channel or simply turning on the television at home to catch up with their favourite teams, their love for the sport reaches an extent beyond that. During every game played by any of the Canadian teams, whether it is the Maple Leafs, Canadiens or Senators, people are seen gathering to watch the games in the company of fellow fans. Many non-sports fans can agree that dinner reservations at their favourite local restaurants/ bars are next to impossible during a night on which a hockey game is airing. Fans occupy these locations, every goal initiating roaring cheers and applaud which echo throughout the restaurant/ bar. Strangers become great friends in the process of cheering for the same teams and non-fans become enthusiastic supporters by the end of the night.

A prime example of fan gatherings can be seen during the 2013 NHL Playoffs when fans assembled at the Maple Leaf Square (MLS). This area in downtown Toronto was named after the TML, who play at the Air Canada Centre next to the square. With a capacity of 5000 people, it is the perfect place for fans to gather during games and the crowd of blue and white is a spectacular sight.

Basketball has a unique impact on Canadians. Unlike hockey, the Toronto Raptors are the only Canadian NBA team; therefore, fortunate to have a fan base that is massive in size. The 2014 NBA playoffs brought forth nation-wide support, as fans gathered at the MLS, which was nicknamed “Jurassic Park” in honour of Canada’s NBA team. It was a sight similar to the NHL playoffs however it was a sea of red. The slogan “We The North” emerged, and was quickly embraced by the entire fan base; shocking the league, especially the opposing team. People stood outside for hours to watch the playoff games, parades of celebration taking place after every victory.

Social media has become a place for fans worldwide to share their input, not restricted to Canada alone. Twitter and Instagram, two extremely popular social media sites have fostered the support of fans everywhere. The hashtag feature on twitter has been utilized to unite users who share love for the same teams (i.e. #RTZ – Raptors Tweet Zone & #TMLTalk – Toronto Maple Leaf Talk). These features allow supporters to tweet about games, read fellow fans’ inputs on plays and to share the excitement during victories.

Sports may be simply physical activities to some, however it is a lifestyle and passion for others. Furthermore, this love for sports shared by dedicated fan bases becomes contagious, attracting supporters nationwide. Differences may be present amongst the people of Canada however unity is most definitely existent through sports.



Arthty Ragupathy is a Raptors fanatic and social media enthusiast. She is currently a 3rd year Health Management student at York University with a love for writing.

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