By Jason Menard
Silence is not only golden – it’s respectful. Well, it is at least until the moment that some disrespectful moron chooses to misuse that honourable pause to draw attention to themselves with their 15 seconds of fame.
As the band Sloan once sang, “it’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans.” And that sentiment can be carried on to a select few attendees at our arenas and stadiums. When it comes learning how to show respect, Canadian sporting fans have a long way to go to.
An interesting parallel was broken at the recent home opener for the London Knights junior hockey club. When two veterans of combat came on to the ice to take part in an opening ceremony, they were greeted with a standing ovation from the assembled throng. But this is contrasted with a select few idiots choosing to use the singing of the national anthem as the background music for their sub-intellectual, puerile outbursts.
Does it not seem somewhat odd that we’re willing to stand and gratefully acknowledge the contributions that the veterans have made to the betterment of our society, yet when it comes to honouring the very flag and anthem for which they fought, we’re found woefully lacking?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that sporting events should be a time of fun, excitement, and celebration. And I appreciate the overwhelming crescendo of applause and cheers that build as the anthem reaches its climax. But there is a time and place for everything, and interrupting our anthem in the middle to release a guttural, animalistic scream is disrespectful and insulting to all Canadians.
And this isn’t just a London thing. It happens all the time in arenas and stadiums across the country. Whether it’s hockey, football, baseball, or any other sport you can imagine, I’ve yet to find one sport that’s immune from the presence of this particular self-congratulatory glory hound.
Really, is in the middle of a song that represents our nation – one with which we should be standing at attention and singing along – the best time to shout “Go Team Go!?” Honestly, I’m pleased that at that moment you finally were able to muster enough brain cells to string two words together (I’m sure it helped that two were short and were the same word, though), but those are sentiments that don’t have a shelf life. They don’t need to be accompanied by Calixa Lavallée’s soundtrack, nor do they need Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir’s or Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier’s (depending on which language, of course) lyrics serving as background vocals for your indispensable contribution to Canadian pride.
Of course, how can we expect to show our anthem the proper respect when we don’t place a premium on it in other aspects of life? Our children listen to the national anthem in school, but don’t sing along. In fact, my 11-year-old son states that many kids in his school talk through the anthem or otherwise act inappropriately. O Canada is an anthem of pride, but each year we see Remembrance Day inch closer and closer to irrelevancy due to the lack of interest we have.
This isn’t like the debate about prayer in school. There is no grey area. The moment we choose to live in this country, we are all Canadians. While each of us is encouraged to retain our social, cultural, and religious identities, we must also recognize that we are all Canadians. And the anthem, like the flag it represents, is a tangible representation of what it means to be Canadians and, as such, deserves respect.
The anthem is powerful. I remember attending an opening day for baseball’s Montreal Expos a few years back. When the anthem started, it was met with a small chorus of boos – which is political expression at its best. But instead of being overwhelmed, the others in the packed stadium sang with all their hearts and voices, the volume rising until the naysayers were overwhelmed. The sense of Canadiana and connection to each other was palpable and it was one of the most moving experiences. At that moment, I truly felt what it meant to be proud of our country. I was able to express outwardly what I’ve always felt inwardly.
We need more moments like that. We need to express our pride to truly feel our pride. And that needs to be done without some moron interrupting the process. Showing pride in our country isn’t the domain of beer commercials – it’s up to each and every one of us to take a stand and use these moments to showcase the best that the country has to offer.
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