Ugly Canadians at sporting events becoming too common?

What follows is an edited version of a letter to the sports editor I spotted in the Montreal Gazette written by Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park. Emphasis mine.

"I attended the Bruins/Canadiens game here in Boston on Nov. 8...but something bothered me as a Canada. Sitting down in front of me were a number of Montreal fans. It was easy to identify them as they were wearing their bleu, blanc and rouge with great pride. During the Canadian national anthem, the Montreal fans sang loudly and with great pride...When the Canadian anthem was finished, everyone in the building cheered...What came next blew my mind. When the American anthem started, maybe a half dozen of the Canadian contingent sat down and would not rise during the singing of the American anthem. To me, this is unbelievable! Over the years, the world has become aware of the phrase "The Ugly American." We in Canada have always thought of ourselves above this level of contempt. Is this the new Canada, one that I cannot understand?" Is it the new low that we degrade ourselves at a sporting event to protest our culture when we guest abroad? One simple act can reflect on many. If one wants to protest, do it in the proper place. Hockey games and sporting events are not platforms...If we continue to think of ourselves as true Canadians, showing respect is a must!"

First of all, credit must go to Brad Park - a Canadian who now lives in the U.S. - for stepping up and speaking out. Of course, he is correct. I know I've witnessed not only what he describes here but the booing of an anthem (Canadian or American) as well. What's amazing is that these fans decided to do this in Boston.

Is this an exercise in freedom or arrogance?

The hard truth, as I have mentioned before on this blog, is that even abroad we're beginning to see the rise of the "Ugly Canadian."

Brad Park, a five time First Team All-Star and twice Second team, was among the the greatest defensemen in the 1970s. Only Bobby Orr surpassed him with eight First Team selections and one Second Team for a total of nine.*

"Please rise for the singing of the Canadian and American anthems" is a common protocol now. Anthems are no longer perceived as political tools. Sure we can find all sorts of excuse such as we shouldn't sing anthems at sporting events but until that happens stand up and show respect.

*Denis Potvin was also named to seven all-star selections; five of those on the First team. Yes, same as Brad Park. Unfortunately, while Potvin managed to win three Norris trophies for top defenseman (twice runner-up,) Park had the misfortune of finishing second on the ballot no fewer than six times - twice to Potvin and four times to Orr.

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