Howard Berger posted an article last week on his blog that insulted Leaf fans in every way possible. He called us sheep, delusional, easily placated, and said that we have “an insatiable willingness to accept whatever garbage is tossed [our] way”. His point is that the powers-that-be at MLS&E are getting rich off of us stupid Leaf fans who continue to buy tickets and merchandise in record numbers. He even brags about how much money he personally is making from Leafs fans who read his blog. Then after all that Leaf-fan-bashing, he adds the postscript: “p.s. You’re the very best, most devoted fans in the world… don’t change a thing” If you asked every sports writer in Canada to write something more patronizing and ass-kissing, I doubt anyone could.
After posting this
garbage article, he then has the nerve to disallow comments on it. Well OK, he hasn’t formally disallowed them. Comments are moderated, which is fine, but in the four days since the article was posted, he hasn’t seen fit to approve a single one. I left one myself that hasn’t been approved, and if you think that mine is the only one, you’re as delusional as us Leaf fans.
Update: Between the time I wrote this article and the time I published it, Mr. Berger and/or the Fan blog people approved 25 comments on this article, including mine.
Are there delusional Leaf fans out there who see a three-game win streak in October and want to plan the Stanley Cup parade? Sure there are. Are there delusional Leaf fans who hate a particular player and want to trade him for a bucket of pucks one day and then want to nominate him for the Hart trophy the next? Sure. Are there Sens fans who do the same? Yes, absolutely! Canadiens fans? Yes! Red Wings fans? Yes! Predators fans? Well, probably not. But Berger lives and works in Toronto, probably the biggest hockey market in North America, if not the world. In absolute numbers, there may be more hockey fans in Toronto than any other city in the NHL (with the possible exception of New York City, just because greater New York has four times the population of the GTA and two NHL teams — three if you include New Jersey). Every city has its share of delusional fans, so it stands to reason that if your total number of fans is higher, you’re going to have more delusional fans. And guess what? These delusional fans are also frequently the loudest, so a sports writer like Berger is going to hear from them a lot more than from us realistic fans. But Howard Berger has covered the Leafs for years, so I would have thought that by this point, Berger would be smart enough not to paint all Leafs fans with the same brush.
Even my favourite sports broadcaster, Bob McCown, has talked about Leafs fans as sheep in the past. He doesn’t say it because people buy lots of tickets or merchandise, or even because they support a team that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in forty years; he says that people that cheer for a team that so openly treats them like garbage are sheep. I guess I can understand his reasoning, but I’ve grown up in Toronto and have been a Leafs fan all my life. I can’t just up and change teams, though I do admit to having had doubts in the past.
A bunch of Leafs blogs have gotten together and written an open letter to Leaf fans saying that we’ve had enough of media types criticizing and insulting us. They suggest a “revolt” of sorts, saying that we do have alternatives to these media types who blame Leafs fans for failings of Leafs players, coaches, and management. These blogs provide commentary and insight on the Leafs without the condescension of Mr. Berger and other Toronto sports writers because they are written by actual Leafs fans. I don’t have the time to read all of these blogs myself, but I do read Down Goes Brown, which I find quite insightful and thought-provoking and sometimes just funny. Pension Plan Puppets has some good stuff as well, though there seems to be less discussion and analysis and more “Go Leafs Go!” on that one.
For my part, I have removed the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox’s blog from my blog list. I have only been reading it for a few weeks and I never found it all that insightful anyway. I never subscribed to Berger’s blog in the first place. Now I’m posting this article in support of this “boycott” of sports writers who think of Leafs fans as moronic sheep while they make money off of us.
Having said all that, I’m not going to stop listening to McCown.