I live near Toronto, and just recently started calling myself a Blue Jays fan. The reason I decided I was a Jays fan was simple: they’re in the finals of their division. I don’t care if this makes me a “bandwagon fan” or any other name, because I don’t claim to be their biggest fan ever. I don’t even pretend to watch their games (because, truth be told, I only watch parts of their games). By declaring myself a Jays fan, all I’m saying is that I’m cheering for the Blue Jays, and that I’m proud their successes.  

I care about the Blue Jays not solely because they’re winning; rather, I care about them because they are bringing Canada an incredible amount of pride. Last week, in the final game against the Texas Rangers, I left for the gym when the Jays were up 6-3. I knew it was a safe bet that they’d win the game while I was at the gym. Sure enough, close to the end of the game a crowd gathered around one of the televisions on the wall, and a cheer erupted when it ended and the Blue Jays won.

Like I said mentioned earlier, I don’t know a lot about baseball. I couldn’t tell you what the umpire does, or how the scoring works, or how many innings there are (or if innings is the correct word). What I do know, though, is reason that the crowd at the Rogers Centre goes absolutely crazy during home games. It’s because having a successful sports team makes them proud to be Canadian, and it boosts our country’s morale.

When I learned about the Summit Series – a series of NHL games between Canada and Russia which took place during the Cold War – it occurred to me that sports are a positive way for nations (or provinces or states) to compete. Sports are often much more than they seem to be. The Summit Series, for example, took place during a period of high tensions between Russia and America, and consequently Russia and Canada. Though they were only hockey games, people saw them as part of the conflict of the cold war. Canada’s national morale was boosted when we won the series.

The exception to my not-watching-sports lifestyle is the Olympics. Because of the diversity of the sports in the Olympics, there are some that I enjoy watching and am able to understand (like gymnastics, because of my dance background). The Olympics are huge for boosting a country’s morale. Just ask any Canadian how proud they felt watching Alexandre Bilodeau win the first Canadian gold on home soil in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, or how happy they were when Sydney Crosby scored the winning goal  in men’s hockey of the same Olympics.

I remember watching that hockey game, curled up beside my dad on the couch in our basement, cheering Canada on. The game was between Canada and the United States and, if that rivalry didn’t already elevate the tensions enough, the game was tied and in overtime. I heard something on the radio after the game about water consumption – basically, Canadians were so engrossed in the game that after Crosby’s gold medal goal, everyone flushed their toilets at the exact same time. It’s not exactly a conventional example of sports boosting national pride, but it’s an example nonetheless.

I feel like “bandwagon fans” get made fun of a lot in sports, but personally I’m okay with being one. I don’t know a lot about sports, but I do know the positive power they can have. To me, that’s the most important thing there is to know.