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Before we close the Raptors chapter, one more thing…

In this edition of Mercy Traveller, Philip Maher sits among Albertan 'cowpokes' watching the Raptors win
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It may seem a bit like looking a gift horse in the mouth analyzing Toronto’s basketball win, but here goes.

During the entire spectacle, I was away from our beloved Guelph, staying with family in Alberta. Unfortunately, I missed the group experience of watching games downtown in the Royal City. I did, however, sit among some cowpokes in Alberta as they cheered.

Calgarians who eagerly disrespect Toronto at the drop of 10-gallon hat found themselves whooping it up at local cowboy bars like they were watching chuck-wagon races at the stampede. There was little discussion of pipeline bids or easterners getting their grubby hands on the Heritage Fund. They wanted Toronto to win.

They were not the only ones. From coast to coast, Canadian blood pressure rose and fell every time a ball fell though a hoop.

Digging deeper, Canadians everywhere felt it was not just Toronto’s win, but their own. “We the North” banners hugged stadiums and bare-chested men, written in felt marker. I get it, despite the fact that most of us have not touched a basketball or watched a game since Grade 9. Canadians felt they personally won this game. One accepts the premise, but it’s an odd thing for folks to believe this is “their” win when frankly, we had nothing to do with it. We pile on when the news is good. The sweet scent of victory rubs off on us all.

Some proudly announced that Canadians invented basketball—it’s our game! This despite the fact that only one Canadian played, Saint Lucian born and Quebec raised, Chris Boucher. Let’s face it, the game may have been started by a Canadian, but Americans ran with the ball and made it what it is today.

Is that not the real win? This little country won against a giant at their own game. Dare I compare winning over Russia in hockey back in 1972?

The David and Goliath scenario is what really made this exciting. Perhaps people all over the world were cheering less for the Raptors, fine as they are, and more for the little country that could. With all of the imperfections in this maple syrup-drinking nation, it is a place that attempts to maintain a civil society. It aims to be a globally welcoming place for everyone and a land where we value dialogue and peace.

This may not have been an overtly political game. However, with due respect to my good American friends, the politics made it sweeter for the snowshoe crowd. Maybe “We the North” proudly displayed on hats was Canada’s humble way of saying make Canada great again? Yes, the timing was good, shortly before Canada Day or Dominion Day, whichever you choose to call it. The win is a symbolic reminder that the small guy can win—at least some of the time.

Happy Canada Day.


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About the Author: Philip Maher

Philip Maher is a consultant and photojournalist. He has managed international communication projects for more than 20 years, taking him to more than 80 countries. His twitter is @mercytraveller.
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