With a smile, I write these words: my part-time job allows me access to Maple Leafs and Raptors home games. Two or three times a week, I’m immersed in an environment which I delightfully call my workplace. There are moments when I’m entranced in unison with the admission-paying guests of the Air Canada Centre: we cheer together, moan together, and say “Ohhh!” together. The difference is that I make my wages serving my fellow fanatics their overpriced food and drink. Also, my mobility during the games allows me to see and hear the action up close and from varying angles.
Aside from the athletic specimens on display, I am able to appreciate the fanfare surrounding our hockey and basketball teams. Nearing the halfway point in each team’s seasons, questions amass on the immediate future of both the Leafs and Raptors franchises. Currently, these two teams (perennially showered with pessimism) are giving Torontonians a lot to cheer about.
On Sunday, the Leafs executed a three-team trade which has already borne positive results (relative to the trend of discontent in Leafs Nation). The excitement over the arrival of a few big name players (defenceman Dion Phaneuf and veteran goalie J.S. Giguere) replaces the negative twang associated with the Leafs since before Doug Gilmour retired. Yes, the trade has the potential to improve the Leafs’ record, but with more certainty, I believe it will electrify the atmosphere of ACC home games.
The whirr and hum of an excited arena isn’t something altogether alien to the ACC, though. The Raptors are receiving well-deserved praise from columnist, analysts, and (most importantly) fans alike. Having won 75% of their last 20 games, and sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, the storylines surrounding this team are equally alluring.
I take delight in watching point guard Jarrett Jack play for Toronto. In his first year with the Raps, he has filled in for the injured Jose Calderon, and has not disappointed. It’s truly refreshing that this “changing of the guards” has been non-controversial. There isn’t much precedent for this gentlemanly usurping of roles, making this season even more special. Taking in to account the dominant play from Chris Bosh, and the improved production of former number one draft pick Andrea Bargnani, being present at the games has its perks (besides a discount on concessions and merchandise).
I suppose any blogger with consistent access to their city’s professional sports scene could argue with the same optimism as mine. I hope they do! Too often I hear unappreciative criticism of the players I follow and watch develop. Too often I wonder from which injustices these fans opine. Too often, of course, there are no answers.
However, I do take solace in believing that these same sources of negativity are born out of a similar passion. Whether it’s the crack of a slap shot or a buzzer beater from half court, my job at the ACC is more refreshing and sweeter than Coke and cotton candy. He shoots, he scores!