I'd never been a sports fan. I happily went about my life never checking "the scores", never rooting for "my team". I went to Jays games with my dad for the sheer enjoyment of being with him, eating ballpark hot-dogs and getting to ride on the train downtown. It never crossed my mind to follow the players or get wrapped up in stats and trades.
Then, in 1992 the Jays won the world series. Then, they won again in 1993. Baseball fever swept through my city at a maddening pace. It was then that I got it, I understood the allure of unity, the sense of belonging, the universal joy that came with rooting for YOUR team and watching them win.
In 1997 I fell in love with a Habs fan. It was as much of a religion to him as Catholicism was to me. He watched all the games, he kept track of the trades, he had Habs t-shirts and hats and little zambonies emblazoned with the "Bleu, Blanc et Rouge". I'd never been this close to true fanhood before, it intrigued me.
When I got a job at CBC television in 2004 I began to see the true scope of hockey fever. The Hockey Night in Canada song was an anthem, everyone around me was in Hockey pools, last nights game was thoroughly analyzed and discussed 'til people were out of breath. Honestly, it was hard to not get caught up in it. It couldn't be avoided. And my initial curiosity came out to play. I deemed myself a Habs fan, picked up a shirt with the Canadiens crest and wore it proudly.
And so we get to the present day... The Habs are in the playoffs! And they're doing SO WELL! I've worn my t-shirt and jersey to work more times than I thought I ever would and find myself asking "Did you SEE the game last night?!"
Best of all, I see my little boy singing O' Canada (both the french and english lyrics!), chanting "GO HABS GO!" and wearing HIS jersey proudly and think "How amazing would it be for him to see HIS team win the Cup?!"
Allez, Montréal! On va gagner!