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June 10, 2019

How the Raptors have Created Fans Across the Country


It's an exciting time for basketball lovers, Toronto Raptors fans, Torontonians, and possibly even the Canadian thousands of kilometres away from Jurassic Park.

In this first-ever NBA Series Final involving a Canadian team, the city and surrounding areas have gone Raptor-mad, and with good reason. We have something for which to cheer.

And it feels good.

Even if you didn't care much about it last year.

Let me explain: The Toronto Raptors, being Canada's only NBA team, has successfully garnered the support of millions of Canadians -- many of whom were not fans previously.

And personally, I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, you could say, that's how fans are born.

From Birth to Bandwaggon

A fan, by definition, is a person who has a strong interest or admiration for a particular person or thing. Think about what you are a fan of -- perhaps a musician, a hobby, a sports team (say, the Toronto Raptors).

I have been a *cough* Toronto Maple Leafs fan from the day I was born. My parents were/are big supporters of the team, and so, my sister and I were, and so, too, are our kids. It's also our city's team, and we never really questioned WHY we were fans, we just were/are. And while I've been waiting my lifetime for an NHL final, I still adorn the blue and white every single year, proudly, without hesitation. 

I can't say that I've been a die-hard fan of the Toronto Raptors, and I certainly wasn't born a fan, because I'm older than the team. I remember the naming contest 25 years ago, and while I have been fortunate to attend a few games over the years, it didn't really matter to me if they won or lost. 

But I'm happy to jump on the bandwagon.

I know a few long-time Raps fans who probably hate this, as they've watched the team rise from the bottom for years and make it through. I get that. And yet, there was still no doubt who I would be cheering for in this final. Our family got t-shirts and everything. 

But look at all the positives a new-found fan brings: 
  • more interest in the sport
  • merchandise sales (note the hat)
  • more viewing time, ad revenue for sponsors
  • tourism to the city,
and the chance to be a part of something monumental, historical. The chance to be a part of a community.

The Toronto Raptors have effectively expanded their community of fans from young children through adults; there is a brand new chunk of the population who has now learned a thing or two about basketball, about Toronto, about this team.

Hockey has traditionally been Toronto's sport, but in the coming years, that may change -- if it hasn't already. Basketball reaches people in towns and cities everywhere; and for many, many years has been a sport enjoyed by people in urban and suburban areas, and was known to appeal to people who couldn't afford "richer" sports. I think that resonates with millions.

There are Canadians who see themselves in these players, and much like the team, the underdog who could be champion.

Cheering through a Championship

A few weeks ago, our kids' school had its first "Raptors" day, where students could wear Raptors tops, jerseys or colours. I was kinda bummed they didn't have one. Because I think it's our responsibility as parents to introduce them to our city and sports teams. 

So, even though they really don't know what it means, they are now happily wearing Raptors t-shirts to school through this championship. Maybe one day, they'll have a real interest and be long-time fans. 


I was old enough to remember when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series -- twice. I remember where I was, I remember the commentators screaming out of the television set. I remember my parents cheering, and us chanting. 

It was history and I remember it.

We have a chance to witness history in the next few days. 

Let's Go Raptors!



How you became a fan of something? Did it develop over time? Were you born into this fandom? Did you join in on the fun because it seemed like a good idea?

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