MPs stand up for Toronto’s long-suffering sports fans

Jane Taber
Globe and Mail

The Centre of the Universe is under attack again – this time by ESPN – but its federal politicians have come to the rescue.

The sports network recently declared Toronto the worst city in North America for professional sports. It arrived at this finding by ranking and weighting team performance against fan commitment, including the amount of money and emotion fans invest in their teams without results.

The Blue Jays have not made a playoff appearance since their World Series win in 1993 and the Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. The Raptors have an even more dismal record.

But enough of this trash talk, Toronto-area MPs say

Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, represents nearby Peterborough. “Toronto is a great sports city. I’m not sure what they are talking about. MLSE and Rogers strongly encourage all of their players and coaches to support important community events and they do, and they are loved for it.”

A hockey player himself, he offered a tactical view. “It’s moments like this that you wish you still had Darcy Tucker, Gary Roberts and Tie Domi under contract,” Mr. Del Mastro said. “It’s easy talking smack about Toronto when you don’t have to line up against them!”

And he also found a silver lining: “Leaf fans and Toronto fans in general can take great pride in knowing that ESPN, in its wisdom, has found the hockey Mecca of Tampa Bay to be the pinnacle of success. Enough said about ESPN’s opinion.”

Bob Rae, the Interim Liberal Leader, offered a bit of self-gratifying nostalgia as a retort to the U.S. criticism. “Well,” the Toronto Centre MP said, “when I was Premier the Blue Jays won the World Series twice. This is not a coincidence.”

Rookie New Democrat MP Matthew Kellway, who represents Beaches-East York, says he can personally defend city’s sports fans. He is a long-suffering Maple Leafs fan and can attest that Toronto sports-team supporters are “extremely loyal” and likely the “most hopeful fans in the world.”

He remembers with much nostalgia being on Yonge Street in 1992 when the Blue Jays won their first of two back-to-back World Series. It was the most exciting night of his life, he said – “at least until May 2.”

And Carolyn Bennett, the veteran Liberal MP for St. Paul’s, thinks “ESPN is dead wrong.”

In an email to The Globe, she added: “Toronto has the most enthusiastic fans who vote with their feet and their wallets! We have ALL the Sports! Carolina won the Stanley Cup and can’t fill the stands. Phoenix is going to have to move.”