US and Canadian media profiting equally off of disrespect

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If you enter the keywords “US media disrespect Raptors” into Google, you’ll get about 400,000 results. It’s a narrative that springs up every time a Canadian team makes it into the playoffs (with the exception of hockey). But what’s surprising is that it’s not just the US media cashing in on the narrative.

It starts with puff pieces on ESPN about American teams being “held up” at customs trying to get into Canada to play a game. Then, if it’s around the trade deadline or towards the end of the season, quotes from high-profile free agents will surface about how they don’t really see Toronto as a potential landing spot. Stuff about having to take your passport on roadtrips, the freezing winters, the higher taxes. Stuff that outweighs getting paid millions of dollars to play a game in North America’s fourth largest city.

It’s easy to see things from the media’s perspective. They need to fill pages and get web traffic, and they know that stories about manufactured drama between countries will draw interest from more than just serious sports fans. For US outlets, it’s about page views. For Canadian outlets, it fuels the underdog image that Toronto fans love to hate. But when the narrative becomes so prevalent that the media begins running these stories as a matter of habit, it creates a dangerous environment that allows for double standards and borderline behaviour from players.

Before Game 4 of the Heat-Raptors series a few weeks ago, a video was captured of Dwayne Wade putting up practice shots as the players from both teams lined up for the singing of ‘O-Canada.’

When asked about it, Wade said he meant no disrespect, and that it’s his routine to shoot until he makes his last shot before the anthems. That’s an excuse, not an apology, but Wade was not disciplined and the incident didn’t blow up. If Kyle Lowry continued to shoot during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, it would’ve been a national scandal.

It doesn’t end there. Just in this year’s Raptors playoff push there are so many more instances of this narrative being exploited by both the US and Canadian media. Ahead of Game 1 against Indiana, the Toronto Star ran a story about Toronto Head Coach Dwane Casey feeling ‘disrespected’ about the inferior broadcast time the Raptors were allotted. Entering the conference semi-finals, Sportsnet had a story about how the U.S. media heavily favoured the Heat over the Raptors despite Toronto being the higher seed. Just recently, the Toronto media went crazy over a poll run by CBS Sports on the most likely winner of the NBA Championship that excluded the Raptors entirely.

The media frenzy is harmless in the moment, but over time it normalizes the narrative and leads to ugly behaviour from players and fans. The Dwayne Wade incident was followed up in Game 1 of the Toronto-Cleveland series. As the Cavs pummeled the Raps in the 4th quarter, Cleveland fans began to chant ‘USA’. And to make things fair, let’s not forget when Toronto GM Masai Ujiri shouted “Fuck Brooklyn” just last year. Sports doesn’t always have to be classy, but it should never be outright disrespectful.

6 Reasons to Watch the Super Bowl for the Football Hater

Super Bowl 50 is shaping up to be a classic, but you don’t care. You’re going to watch Seinfeld re-runs and go to bed blissfully unaware of the annoying world of NFL football. Yes, football is a flawed and barbaric game that involves concussions, face painting, and lots of bros, but a Super Bowl party is something entirely different. You don’t have to like watching football to have fun at a good Super Bowl party, and here are six reasons why.

1. The awesome commercials

CBS set a new record this year with a $5,000,000 price tag on 30 seconds of Super Bowl air time. When companies shell out that much for an ad, you know those 30 seconds are going to be incredible. Last year, Budweiser warmed our hearts with a cute puppy, Always busted stereotypes with its #LikeAGirl campaign, and Doritos had us choking on our nachos with this hilarious ad.

This year, Nintendo is set to air an epic ad for the 20th anniversary of Pokémon (I can’t believe it’s been 20 years), Budweiser will be back with another tearjerker, and there’ll be a new trailer for the most exciting movie of 2016: Finding Dory.

According to a study done by the Wall Street Journal in 2014, football—like, actual game action, the throwing and catching and tackling—makes up only 5% of every televised football broadcast. That’s compared to 33% commercials, and 35% ‘Shots of players standing around’. So even if you hate watching football, 5% is a pretty good deal in exchange for some of the most entertaining ads of the years.

2. The glorious food

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Seven-Layer Bean Dip by Betty Crocker

No matter how hardcore into sports the host of your Super Bowl party is, there is only one thing more sacred than the players moving on the TV: Nachos. Also, beer.

The name of the game here is dip. If you find yourself at a party where the dip has less than seven layers, leave immediately and cut your losses. You will need at least seven layers of dip, ample guacamole, spicy wings, and a few slices of pizza to get through a night of watching football, so make sure you are at a party that can meet those needs.

Finally, make sure you come with a six pack or a bag of chips. Even if the host has food covered, coming empty handed will make you pigging out to your stomach’s content a bit awkward.

3. Cam Newton’s smooth moves

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Photo via Sporting News

Nobody has more fun playing football than Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. His team scores more touchdowns than the other team pretty much every game, and when Cam is the guy getting into the end zone, he celebrates like nobody’s watching. It started with the ‘Dab’, a move that looks like you’re sneezing into your arm (with swag), and turned into full-on choreographed routines. Don’t worry, you won’t have to watch the whole game to catch Cam dancing—just listen for a Panther’s fan cheering.

4. Queen Bey

After giving the best halftime show the Super Bowl has ever witnessed in 2012, Beyonce is back for more this year, and she’s bringing Coldplay along. The halftime show is a swing and miss event, but the production quality is always through the roof, and people are always talking about it the next day at work. You don’t want to be the person who missed out on Janet Jackson’s nip slip, or the person who has to ask what Left Shark is.

If you can’t sell out for Beyonce and fireworks, then you should stop reading this post right now, because nothing in this world will be enough to convince you to watch the Super Bowl.

5. Peyton Manning’s last dance

Photo via Sporting News

Photo via Sporting News

Even if you don’t watch football, you’ve probably heard of Peyton Manning. He’s the quarterback with the peanut-shaped head that everybody loves. He turns 40 this March, and there’s a good chance this is the last game he ever plays before retiring. Even if he has a mid-life crisis and returns for next season, he almost certainly will never have another shot to win a Super Bowl.

Use this opportunity to get on the Peyton Manning nostalgia bandwagon and shed a few tears over an American hero who could throw a ball pretty well. At the very least, anyone can have fun watching a man approaching 40 years old try to avoid getting tackled by a bunch of 300-pound linebackers. There’s a very real possibility he breaks at least one hip.

6. Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos

Wondering what Lady Gaga has been up to recently? Missing the days when ‘Bad Romance’ was on the radio 24/7? Great news if you said yes to those questions! She will be singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl this year! Last year Idina Menzel capitalized on her Frozen fame to snag the gig, and the year before that some opera singer did it.

The list of National Anthem performers at the Super Bowl is impressive: Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, and the best to ever do it, Whitney Houston. After two years of bland performances, be sure that Gaga is going to pull out all the stops and slay it.