Attending the Toronto FC match on Saturday was a bit like observing a foreign culture in their natural habitat. I found myself observing their rituals and customs as I quickly adapted. What I saw and experienced has me questioning everything I know when it comes to sporting events.
The professional team I've seen most often live in this city is the Toronto Blue Jays, first at Exhibition Stadium and now at SkyDome. I can only think of one fan-driven ritual, and that's the wave. The wave was fantastic from 1983 through the two World Series wins, but the wave has lost a great deal of steam since the mid-90s and it's all there was. Sure, every so often a group would jump on a chant to belittle an opposing player, and there are always random calls and cheers when the home team makes a great play, but for the most part you sit there and watch.
Don't get me started on Maple Leaf games. There are no fan-driven rituals, you simply do what the scoreboard tells you to do. For the most part you sit down and watch, reacting to the play. The older fanbase, primarily made up of corporate seat-holders, would probably sic an usher on you if you dared try to start a sing-along or chant. And unless we've just scored or there's a fight, don't you dare stand. That would be considered rude.
Raptors games, although full of a great deal more enthusiasm with younger, passionate fans, don't capture that same ambiance I witnessed at BMO Field on Saturday. You sit down and react to the plays on the court. Every so often the public address announcer and scoreboard will order you to sing a certain song or clap in rhythm, but it's totally contrived.
Why can't we take what we have learnt from TFC fanatics and apply it to other sporting events in this city? Is it too late to teach an old dog new tricks and shed our reputation as fans who sit on their hands?
I don't know where to start and how to copy and paste what I experienced, but there must be a way. If it can be done at BMO Field, it can be done at the ACC and SkyDome.