Elusive as ever, joy was ours to be had in Toronto yesterday. It took a sporting match to make that happen, and one other key ingredient in that mass celebration on parade through the downtown core: accessibility. Over and over again, fans were to be heard gushing over “our team.” It was the story of our neighbourhood streets. Everyone owned a piece of the Raptor’s championship. We felt close to it, thought it was ours. Millions of fans enjoyed access to refracted glory.
I was a point guard in Scarborough growing up. All the children of immigrants- Vietnamese, Asians, Black, Brown, we all played religiously so it is really special to now be with my fellow Canadians and be celebrating together. Everyone in Canada knows each other. We are one big family.Omer Aziz, author
I played basketball (poorly) for a brief inglorious spell in high school and didn’t pretend to grasp the sport’s mechanics perfectly. Nor did I watch it much until these championships lit up, and I began to peer closely at this group of talented athletes. Such power! Such poise! And for this hockey fan, such spectacular restraint under the most intense stress. I was won over by how this team played the sport rather than the sport itself. So yes, I, too, sped downtown last Thursday night and high-fived in the wee hours with my daughter (who, unlike her mother, played basketball brilliantly for years) and my other half, a fan since the origin of the Raptors. That’s him in the grainy photo, playing in the streets of Kensington Market. They were both here in Toronto yesterday, going through those happy throngs.
We were all there in spirit. Communal moments are as rare as perfect sleep in this digital era.
Our collective glory held the day until some thieves tried to steal it with a gunshot scattering through a sea of peaceful fans. For those injured, a horrific moment. For those in the stampede, panic is sure to cause future sleepless nights. These criminals were apprehended by quick-thinking cops. Most of the crowd was unaffected; thousands of fans still turned their faces to the sun.
Fleeting as it is, joy cannot be stolen. It was ours. We would do well to mark it. Bring our pleasure globes out to marvel and remember. There will be shadows again, but that moment is now embedded in our collective history. Age affords us this wisdom, or why else are all the old folks grinning their wrinkled smiles to themselves? Someday that will be me, remembering the boys with their cigars and champagne splashing out in a spray over all of us and turning us all into bubbles for the briefest moment.
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Refracted glory belongs to parents, too, at this time of year.