Soccer: Toronto FC Hooligans and Other Myths Of The Modern Media

Duane RollinsCorrespondent IJune 10, 2008

Normally, it's best to ignore ignorance. However, there comes a time when one must speak up against the madness.

Such is the case with the Toronto Globe and Mail's Leah McLaren's hackery.

Apparently the queen of nepotism had her pretty nice little Saturday interrupted by some boisterous TFC fans last week, and decided that it would make a good jumping off point to write an article painting all of its fans as knuckle dragging buffoons hellbent on recreating a scene from the Real Football Factories.

Forgetting for a moment the utter stupidity of labeling TFC fans as hooligans, wannabe or otherwise. She's not the first North American journalist looking for the sensational angle on what's happening at BMO Field to make that jump.

To repeat what anyone with two minutes available to do some research should know—hooliganism is organized. It's rooted in class politics and it feeds off of the type of hopelessness and poverty that has thankfully never been a part of North American society. When two guys get into a fight at a TFC game they aren't hooligans—they're idiots.

Just in the same way that two guys fighting at a NFL game—a far more frequent occurrence it must be said—are idiots.

Let's also put aside the soccer basing aspect of this trite. That's as old as it is boring. Although if you'd like to read soccer fans calling McLaren a four letter word that rhymes with Billy Beane's least favourite offensive strategy, there are plenty of places to do so.

What is really irritating about it is its dripping in condescension tone. Like most arts reporters (but, thankfully not all), McLaren is dismissive of the idea that people—reasonable, well-bred people anyway—could possibly care about sports.

"Why, it's not important," they scoff. "A distraction for the unwashed, uneducated masses."

From time to time they may partake—a sort of slumming exercise, like when they go out for a beer at a country and western bar as a lark—but, they would never lower themselves to really stand and cheer.

Of course they can write about a self-indulgent festival flick like it's Shakespeare, and the latest fashion line is clearly of the utmost importance. Their distractions are art after all. Sports are just ugly and dirty.

What McLaren and her ilk don't get is that sports do matter. Sure, it has its ugly side, but at its best it can provide inspiration, amazement, and a tremendous sense of community. It gives many people something to look forward to at the end of a long, crap day, and it can provide joy in otherwise joyless times.

It connects fathers to sons, grandfathers to grandchildren and, thankfully, in recent times it has started to do the same thing for mothers and grandmothers.

It keeps troubled boys in school and it gives shy girls self-confidence. It makes us healthier and ignites passion within us.

From sport we gain lifelong friendships and are forever connected to our roots.

And if Leah doesn't get that she's—to use a word that the admitted Anglophile will understand—a wanker.