As an American, I look down on you with the loving contempt of an older brother. No matter what you do, no matter how well you do it, I'll always consider myself far superior. And the worst part is, it's kinda your fault.
Canada tries so hard to make a name for itself and establish an identity independent from the US, but it does so in a way that always screams, "See? We're not America!" And that's never the right way to go about creating an identity.
One of the most ubiquitous and obnoxious ways Canadians try to establish this self-image in sports is to wantonly slap a red maple leaf onto any identity they can, regardless of color scheme, team name or club history.
And whether it's because Americans are too stupid to know what cities are in Canada or whether Canadians are too stupid to realize no one cares, the maple leaf logo trend is supremely stupid.
The maple leaf permeates every major sports league in the US and Canada. Hell, even the NFL - a league without a Canadian team - is not immune to this trend. Thanks Bills, how could we tell you were at Rogers Centre (It's Center Canada, but don't get me started...) without that helpful little leaf?
The NBA has been mostly leaf-free except for the Raptors in the mid-2000s. Apparently NBA teams are too busy working a basketball into every logo to hop onto the maple leaf trend...
The NHL, a league which shouldn't feel the need to do this since Canada has seven teams (Oh, and they created the sport), is one of the worst offenders.
Note to Canadian NHL teams: Only one team should have a Maple Leaf in its logo.
Yet again, reason is ignored and the leaf is everywhere. At one point, this little gem was an alternate logo for the Ottawa Senators.
The newest NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets (a team that already had a leaf-free identity) went the full-leaf and slapped it on every... single... logo they could find. Sure, there identity is based on this, but doesn't this or this accomplish the same feat while evoking the leaf rather than haphazardly placing it in the logo?
And did I mention that there's no other red anywhere in Jet's color scheme or on their uniforms?
Even the Calgary Flames caved to the trend. After 27 years in Canada, not only did the Flames slap on an Alberta Flag on one shoulder, they threw the Canadian flag on the other - just in case you hadn't realized Calgary was in Alberta, Canada.
Even the measly MLS manages to throw in a maple leaf onto one of their two Canadian teams. That one may be the least egregious since the design is so poor, you can barely tell it's a maple leaf, but it is.
But the real offender, and probably the originator of the maple leaf trend, is the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Repeatedly and habitually, the Blue Jays (whom you would think would eschew any red for shades of... oh, I don't know... blue?) have forced this stupid symbol of, "WE'RE IN CANADA," into every iteration of their team identity since their founding in 1977.
So desperate, consistent and ubiquitous has the use of the leaf been in their identity that - I argue - they have corrupted the team identities of almost every sports team in Toronto.
Raptors? TR + Leaf alt logo. Toronto FC? Main Crest + Leaf. Even minor league teams have leaf logos.
The Maple Leafs get a pass as they existed decades before the Blue Jays, their identity contains no red and their leaf has maintained some design independence from the flag version of the leaf since their inception.
But still, Toronto has a leaf problem.
...Canada has a leaf problem, and it's a stupid problem to have.
A Note to the Pissed/Offended
So my humour (<--see what I did there?) may have fallen flat. For that I apologize, I'm not a comedian, I'm a writer and a designer. Next time I'll leave the jokes to professionals.
I like making Canadian jokes. I refer to this as a Canadian Tuxedo. I like that Canadians say "about" funny. I like that the top of Canadian heads don't attach to the bottom. To me, those are funny jokes, I understand they might not be to Canadians.
All jokes aside, my piece was intended as a reaction to the recent unveilings of the Jets and Blue Jays' new uniforms and logos, something that probably got lost in the shuffle. Both have leaves. Both - to me - seem superfluous. I also wanted to note how I thought this trend was bigger than just those two teams. Many Canadian teams in recent history, or currently, in the five major cross/border sports (MLB, MLS, NBA, NHL and NFL, though, they only have the one game in Canada) have had the maple leaf grace their uniform.
My argument is that this beats the viewer over the head with, "We're from Canada." People - even Americans - aren't as stupid as we're made to be. But while discussing this topic, I'm only discussing the trend of the maple leaf, not anything else. If you wish for me to discuss American jingoistic sports trends, you could write a book, or 10, on that topic, without doing it justice, leave alone including the Maple Leaf trend into the conversation.
That is what I was taught in school is a topic, not a subject. You narrow the focus of your topics until you find a subject to write about, otherwise there is too much to cover. You don't see articles written in the paper about football, they are on the Dallas Cowboys, and actually, that's probably too broad a topic, most likely it's their playoff chances in light of this weeks' win, or how they match up against their next opponent, etc.
While I was trying to talk about a shoelace, some wanted me to talk about an outfit, and that just wasn't what I was here to discuss.
I hope people can see why I didn't write about all jingoistic images in sports, it's just too broad to cover in the forum I was trying to do it: I try to keep my essays here right around 1000 words.
I picked a narrow topic - my professors would be so proud - and that topic was the maple leaf in Canadian athletic imagery and even that's broadness led me to sort-of take cursory glances at individual teams so that I wouldn't end up writing a 5000 word rant, I figured 1000 was enough, haha.
Now, as far as American teams go, there are obnoxious, jingoistic habits and repetitious imagery, but I just didn't feel that was pertinent to the opinion and subject I was trying to write on.
I don't know if any of this will change your opinion of me or the piece or why I wrote it. And as callous and self-absorbed as it may sound, I don't care. I know what I wrote, I know why I wrote it and I know my true opinions. Now you all know them too. If that's not enough nothing will be.
This isn't my finest work, I'll admit that, but it isn't garbage, in my opinion either, I think there's something to it. Hopefully you'll now see it for what it is, a piece on a trend in Canadian sports design and not a diatribe against all Canadians.