Diversity, Moral Superiority, Tattoos: Welcome to Jurassic Park


Convivium, 13 June 2019

In advance of tonight's big game for the Toronto Raptors, Editor-in-Chief Father Raymond de Souza muses on the ins and outs of the group's fan base, diversity in the crowds and temporary tattoo shows of support.

There are many queuing up early this morning, even last night, to get into Jurassic Park for Game 6 of the NBA Finals. I was at Jurassic Park in downtown Toronto for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. It was an away game in Oakland, the fans were fired up and expecting that perhaps Drake would come by. It was raining, and Drake is a bit fragile about that sort of thing, so he was a no-show. Happily, I was on hand to keep the glamour quotient high.

From sea to sea Jurassic Parks are springing up so that Canadians can leap aboard the Raptors bandwagon. I have no problem with that. I rather like bandwagons. They are friendly places. There ought to be a little bit of guilt though showing up to cheer during the Finals when Nav Bhatia has been there all along, at every game since it all began in 1995. 

But that’s why there are such things called guilty pleasures. And Nav himself ought to feel at least a little guilty, given that 24 seasons of perfect attendance at basketball games is a serious imbalance in a man’s life. 

It’s a phenomenon, the Jurassic Park assemblies. And on the whole an encouraging one. People gather because it is better to do something together, even if that is watching the big screen. It’s possible to watch a game at home, or to stream it while taking the GO Train home. It’s even possible to buy a very expensive ticket and go to the game live, only to watch it on the big screen. 

There is something convivial about watching together, not at home but with others in the public square. I wouldn’t have queued up all day to get in, but I didn’t need to. The rain kept Drake and the other fair-weather fans away, so I strolled in, delayed only long enough for the security guards to do a quick pat down and confiscate my umbrella. Perhaps the searches were to maintain a certain Ontario primness about alcohol in public; in any case there appeared to be no drunkenness. It was a happy, if soggy, crowd.

This being Canada, it was important to stress our moral superiority. That moral superiority took a nearly lethal blow in Game 5, as the Raptors fans – both in the arena and in Jurassic Park – initially cheered the injury to the Warriors star player, Kevin Durant. Classless, and embarrassingly so. Apologies in abundance followed, but apologizing for doing something wrong is not really the Canadian way; it’s our readiness to apologize when we haven’t done anything wrong that is our distinctive trait. 

The cheering of Durant’s injury was most awkward because it called attention to the character of Toronto’s fans. That’s a distraction, because the basis for the moral superiority of the Raptors fans is not the content of their character but the colour of their skin. In Toronto the fans are “diverse” you see, and that fans of different races come together to cheer on the Raptors shows how much better Toronto is than, I suppose, nasty cities the world over.

I did not see much diversity during my visit to Jurassic Park, I confess. I was there more than a quarter of an hour before I saw anyone that was not of Indian descent; two Caucasian boys who were visiting from Europe. But “diversity” in Toronto means non-white, not actual diversity. Nevertheless, the Raptors and all the municipal officials who set up Jurassic Parks are very pleased about a diverse “fan base.”

Continue reading at Convivium: https://www.convivium.ca/articles/welcome-to-jurassic-park