While there may be a plethora of social, economic, and — for some — ideological advantages to attract prospective immigrants to the Great White North, it has become abundantly clear that professional athletes are not so easily enticed.
Surely socialized health care, stringent gun control, and an endless supply of maple syrup is enough to persuade even the most uninterested of players into renting their services out to one of Toronto’s several storied franchises.
As the Toronto faithful will lament, no major sports team in Ontario’s capital has won a championship since the Blue Jays defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1993 World Series.
That was nearly two decades ago.
So why is it that the Blue Jays, Raptors, and perennial-disappointment Maple Leafs remain the whipping-boy in their respective leagues? Optimists can attribute it to bad luck, but pessimists (or more aptly, realists) understand that the appeal of Toronto that once existed in the mind of professional athletes has long since dissipated.
Let us first analyze why the Raptors and Blue Jays are destined for failure.
In the mid-nineties, when NBA executives were eager to explore any avenues that could potentially lead to an increased revenue stream, they decided to expand the league northward beyond the confines of the United States, adding teams in both Vancouver and Toronto. It did not take long to realize that the Vancouver market could not sustain an NBA franchise, and once the team was no longer financially viable, they quickly moved the team to Memphis. Meanwhile, the initial novelty of playing in Canada faded, leaving the Raptors relying solely on their drafting ability as a means to procure elite talent.
Now, as both the Vince Carter and Chris Bosh eras have come and gone without more than a couple disappointing playoff runs, the Raptors are approaching their third decade of existence without any legitimate accolades.
So how does the incumbent laughingstock of the league attract any remotely premium talent? It doesn’t.
Considering that the vast majority of NBA players are American-born, the only conceivable way the Raptors could attain enough talent to contend would be an immaculate track record of sustained success. Much to the chagrin of Toronto fans, they do not have such a history and are thus destined for a future rife with disappointment and overpriced concessions.
This same principle can be applied to the current state of the Toronto Blue Jays. Realistically, the Blue Jays have not been a contender since the moment Joe Carter finished his triumphant trip around the bases in October of 1993. The majority of players in the MLB today were still suckling at their mothers’ bosoms when Toronto was on top, and as far as they are concerned, Toronto can no longer even flirt with baseball relevance.
Additionally, the ‘foreign-factor’ plays a significant role in the baseball world as well. In a sport dominated by American and Latino players, Canada has little allure and will continue to be the unanimous ‘worst-case scenario’ option. So, Blue Jays fans, cling to those nostalgic reminiscences of the early nineties, it is going to be a rough few decades.
Finally, we arrive at the piece de resistance: the Toronto Maple Leafs. While one could pontificate for years as to why the Leafs are perennial losers, I surmise that telling Toronto fans why the Leafs cannot win is like telling is analogous to telling a chicken why it is lower on the food chain. It does not have to be understood, just accepted.
Nonetheless, I will proffer one theory as to why the Toronto Maple leafs remain the bane of Toronto sports fans. Quite simply, the pressure that amounts with each unsuccessful year has reached a level where the NHL’s premium talent is scared away from ever donning the blue and white. This city lives and dies with its storied hockey franchise, and recent history seems to indicate that the elite talent of the NHL would rather forego the opportunity to bring the Cup back to toronto than risk becoming Hockeytown’s favourite pariah. It is simply not worth it.
So, Toronto fans, there you have it. We are losers. But remember, although the picture I painted may be bleak, it could always be worse. You could be living in Cleveland.