Sport-starved city

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 15 2013

A Dark Age for Vancouver sport fans
By Elliot Chan, Contributor

April 22, 2012 marked the last Vancouver Canucks game. September 9, 2012, the Vancouver Canadians concluded their season. November 1, the Whitecaps were defeated and knocked out of their first MLS playoffs. November 18, 2012 was the disappointing last game for the BC Lions. And the Vancouver Giants, with a current record of 11-28-0, are unworthy of being considered entertainment. Needless to say, the city has been in a sports drought. And after gorging ourselves on the brief World Junior Championship, most of us still feel unsatisfied, like having eaten candy for dinner. Now that the NHL is back, the banquet is served. But let’s not forget the other sports and other leagues around the world. Just because we’re sports fans doesn’t mean we can’t be cultured.

Not far beyond the horizon, our American neighbours are enjoying their bounty in NFL playoffs and NBA midseason. With the Super Bowl held in New Orleans this year on February 3, you know it will be a grand spectacle, regardless of the teams in the final. As for NBA, the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are proving their worth, leading the conference and eager to defend their title. But all eyes are on the usurpers. Kevin Durant looks to be the key to success in Oklahoma City, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin of the LA Clippers look posed to do some real damage overtaking the Lakers as the Los Angeles team to root for. The current unpredictability of the two America-based sports makes it worthwhile to check out.

On January 14, 2013, the Australian Open tennis championships begin in Melbourne. The opportunity to see Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer face each other in a rematch is a good enough reason to stay up late. And if those two take up the top spots, then Andy Murray will be a respectable number three. After reaching the finals in two of the last three years, it seems that Murray always saves his best for the Aussies. Since he won the gold medal at the Olympics in his British homeland against Federer, Murray is expected by many to finally surpass his long-time rival and top seed, Djokovic.

Across the pond, the UEFA Championship round of 16 has been set and there are some key games leading up to the May 25 finals: Manchester United against Real Madrid on February 13 and March 5, AC Milan versus FC Barcelona on February 20 and March 12, and Arsenal taking on Bayern Munich on the same days. With memories of Chelsea winning 4–3 on penalty kicks after a 1–1 draw against Bayern Munich at the finals in Germany, an epic tension is building up because of the finals being held at Wembley Stadium in England. Bayern would love to make their tenth appearance in the deciding game, but with so many quality teams in the mix it seems unlikely to see an England-Germany rematch.

Although there might not be a whole lot going on north of the 49thparallel, like tropical fruit in January, there are always exports from other countries to enjoy.

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