For anyone who has observed the behavior of a sports fan engaged in watching a game, you’ll understand the benefits that come from this unique perspective. I recently had the pleasure of observing fan behavior which brought me to a deeper understanding of Nationalism and what it means to be ‘part of the team’. Most people in Western society understand what that phrase means…to be part of the team, a team player. We hear this all the time whether its in the classroom and referring to group projects or in the workplace while sweating it out in an interview: “What can you bring to the table?”. And no, a ripe harvest of your best garden veggies is not the meaning here. In other words its not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game…right? Well, not entirely especially if you’re a ‘loyal fan’ watching your countrymen fight it out on the pitch. I am referring to this weekend’s World Cup Rugby match between Scotland and England. And oh yes, the wounds of the past still run deep. As with most ‘arm-chair’ fans such as myself, I observed an intelligent, rational and usually calm individual, quickly mutate into a screeching ball of uninhibited savage-like energy for the entirety of the game. It was like watching a dozen toddlers on speed at Mach-10…entertaining but a bit draining. However, amongst the screams, claps and occasional cursing, I felt a deeper meaning behind all this. To the tune of “Flower of Scotland” which wrung at the hearts of many a Scot (including my ex-pat husband), I sensed a camaraderie, a feeling of being united as one nation, slugging it out on the field for God, Country and damn good ale. For those who of us who complacently sit in our ‘armchairs’, constantly reminded of our lack of patriotism every time a Political Party message comes trashing through our t.v’s, wondering who the hell we’re going to vote for come election day, I say, observe the ‘loyal fan’ watching their nation’s game. The essence of victory and ‘all for one-one for all’ is so contagious that soon you will be shouting along with them. You’ll have a renewed sense of Nationalism and what it means to be a ‘team player’, the ‘Well Done Mate’ can be heard for miles. But what happens when the triumph of the game turns sour due to one man’s crucial error that can send the whole team spinning in a sea of defeat? This is when the ‘loyal fan’ turns to the tough love approach otherwise known as cursing your head off at the t.v in hopes of it having an effect on the outcome. For example the terms, ‘You Numpty’, ‘You Pillick’ or for a group ‘What a bunch of Nuggets’ are often used when a player (s) has made a silly mistake but has not compromised the outcome. However, when a more serious blunder occurs that has perhaps cost the team victory, one can often hear the terms, ‘Ma grannie kin play better than you…an she’s deed!’ and the ever popular term used on players who suddenly appear more effeminate in nature: ‘Oh, you Big Girl’s Blouse’ (which I take particular offense to since I prefer loose and comfy fitting garments). And finally, when things get really bad, ‘Jesus Wept’. So why all the excitement anyway? What can be gained from all this carry-on? Well, the bottom line is this: No matter how badly the team plays, its still your team and you, as the ‘loyal fan’ will support them to the end…even if it means defeat. There is always another game and always another chance to put on your colours, raise your flag and through screams of anthems and songs, support your team and your country. Is this not the essence of Nationalism? Those who claim that Nationalism is dead in the 21st century have not watched a ‘loyal fan’ support their team….or certainly not watched a rugby fan support Scotland against England in the Cup. My point is this…do Canadians have a sense of Nationalism? Do they even know what Nationalism means? Are we a country so big and diverse that we lack a sense of Identity? We may have a sense of cultural belonging passed down from our families but what about a sense of Nationalism that comes from being a Canadian? We cannot use the excuse of geographic size to excuse ourselves from a lack of Nationalism when its as strong as ever in other places such as Europe (EU separate but united). So what is Canada…separate but united or separate (federally) and divided (provincially)? Seems to me that the only time we cry Nationalism is when something or someone points out that not all of us are on the same page (remember the Conservative Party Slogan, ‘Michael Ignatieff: Just Visiting’) which signals us to once again attempt to find some shred of solidarity amongst us. I suppose there will always be folk living in a country that do not hold a patriotic view of the present place they call home. Perhaps they long for the place they were born or a time when things were not so complicated. Perhaps the younger generations have forgotten what it means to have a sense of belonging, apart from their ‘Friends List’ on Facebook. But that is not to say that is is impossible for each one of us in this huge, dynamic and diverse country to find something that unites us…that qualifies us as ‘team players’…APART FROM HOCKEY AND MOOSEHEAD. Perhaps now is the time for each one of us to take the time to discover what this country means to us. Maybe by starting at the beginning we can come to terms with what makes us all truly Canadian, apart from beavers, back-bacon and really great maple syrup. I feel it is possible for solidarity and a sense of unity to be present in each one of us regardless of creed, culture, age or location. Next time the rugby is on, take a look at the scrum…a team locked together, pushing through adversity to make it to the other side. Isn’t that what the next Provincial election is all about?