Friday, July 31, 2015

Last day in Toronto

I felt a bit sad today when I had to check out of my hotel after a nine day trip that included the Pan Am games, a trip to western new york to visit friends, and a return to Toronto on Wednesday for a conference.  I sort of know Toronto now. I think I can get around downtown, certainly by foot, and even a little bit by car. I was able to get to the conference venue easily and found myself giving directions to newbies.

Pretty city.  Extraordinarily diverse. Friendly as cities go. And for sports enthusiasts, Torontonians like their Blue Jays, Maple Leafs and to a lesser extent, the Argonauts.  I have never really got a feel for Canadian football but after a week here catching snippets of games I found myself sort of into the BC Lions, Winnipeg game that was on tv last night.

The conference that ended a few hours ago was on sport and society. I drew the final session so was a bit disappointed in the number of attendees, but enjoyed relaying the results of the study nonetheless.

 In two days I was exposed to quite a few new things, new even for someone relatively familiar with sport.  I met a woman at lunch yesterday who gave a paper on longboarding.  Longboarding is skateboarding with longer boards. Instead of doing tricks on the boards, participants fly down hills on their longboards competing against similar athletes.  The woman was very thin and looked like a good shot on cement might take her out, but she is a serious participant in these races and claimed to be one of the few, or the only person, doing research in this area. She plans to move to New Zealand next year to study with another longboarder. Today she showed me a video of a longboarding race down a mountain. Not for me.

I heard a disturbing paper about the BDS campaign against Israeli competitors. This is an attempt to preclude Israeli participants and teams from international competition.  I should not be surprised. Under the guise of political opposition, the leaders of this campaign are exercising their anti-semitism.  Using the three Ds of Double Standards, Demonization, and Delegitimization (i.e. Israelis have no legitimate rights to the land) these neo nazis with nicer hats are manufacturing a new flavor of persecution.

A woman at lunch today told me about the new roller derby. When I was a kid I watched roller derby which was a vicious sport played by men and women that had elements of professional wrestling on a track with competitors on wheels. The new roller derby apparently is catching on.  Boy did she know a lot about roller derby past and present.

A fellow gave a paper on how sport can create nationalism among those who are not nationalists but follow a national team. So immigrants or asylum seekers come to a country with no real allegiance to the country but pull for their national team and then begin to identify with the country.

I now know more about the problems related to engaging young Canadians in the game of curling than is probably necessary, also the nuances of fantasy sports journalism, the so called fight of the century, the history of medical marijuana in Canada (the product is consumed by athletes), cricket match fixing in New Zealand, and certain bathing suits which provide an advantage to racing competitors.  Oh, and preseason basketball polling is biased and these biases can give the haves pecuniary advantages.

My head is spinning and I am ready for the return flight.  The Porter terminal at the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto looks more like a bus station than a plane terminal.  Not much in the way of amenities here and my flight does not take off for two hours.

I'll miss Toronto.

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