Being together – in the communities we choose – is a lifeline we not only crave – but need.
Our program, Fan Culture Communities showed the changing face of communities – from a new frontier of on-line churches to video game cultures that attract tens of millions out there in cyberspace. In a world always on alert for the next disaster, and people stressed to the ‘nines’ – few can deny that being together refreshes and enriches our lives.
That’s what we witnessed this past week at the Raptor’s victory parade in Toronto.
Estimates vary, but CityTV reported, “the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) set a record for single-day ridership at about 2.7 million. The previous record was set in 2002 during Pope John Paul II’s visit, when about 2 million people rode the transit system.”
Some of us watching on TV were left wondering, “Where did they all use the washrooms?” We all know how much Toronto stores love non-patrons using the loo! Then someone said, “Depends stocks skyrocketed.” Duh!
“Toronto’s a hockey town!” Another lamented:“If the Leaf’s won, this town would be on fire.” Um. Well. Go Leafs!
The multi-cultural allure of Canada’s only basketball team – and the celebratory unity the NBA Champs brought to our city warmed hearts, and made history. Toronto’s first professional basketball team was the TorontoHuskies of the Basketball Association of America, a forerunner of the NBA. Toronto hosted the league’s first game on November 1, November 1946, facing off against the New York Knickerbockers at Maple Leaf Gardens.
After 24 years, the Toronto Raptors brought home the championship, and the basketball community along with us band wagoners – not only in Toronto, but across Canada – exploded in celebration. Memories of the Argonauts and Blue Jays wins flooded back to many of us.
As we witnessed the jubilation, we wonder how it must feel to succeed at such a level. Reach the heights of greatness in the sports arena – and community. Many of the NBA players attributed their success to God for the win. According to on-line “faith outlets,” Kawhi Leonard thanked God, and said he, “prayed every day.”
Seems those prayers were answered – mightily.
Many players profess their faith openly and with joy. Jeremy Lin – the first Asian American to be an NBA champ professes his faith throughout his social media platforms, tweeting “God is perfectly the same through the highs and the lows. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve believed this through all the down times, and he’s just as good at the mountaintop rn!” The day after Raptors won the championship. In an interview with CBN, Lin said, “My legacy with the world would be, I would want them to know that I lived for God, I was faithful in my life.”
Lin regularly attends C3 church in Toronto; his home church is in California. Lin’s pastor told Associated Press, “people want to label him as Chinese basketball phenomenon but if you were to talk with him his identity is in Christ, and that God is in control, and if all goes away tomorrow, it’s ok.”
Mainstream media outlets don’t report on players’ faiths like they used to. Remember when a musicians, celebrities, athletes and actors would shout out, “I want to thank God!” at the podium? That doesn’t seem to happen as much it used to. Some theories on-line say mainstream media isn’t showing it as much because of the changing demographics of their viewers – like an NFL team praying together on the field, but the cameras cutting off before the team prayer aires. Another story by the Washington Post reported that a Muslim football player was penalized by the NFL for praying on the field after a play, and was given a “un-sportsman like” card, but the NFL quickly backtracked.
But back to the Raptors! Pascal Siakam’s long road to victory – nicknamed “Spicy P” by Raptors fans. ESPN wrote an extensive profile of the 25-year-old’s, “6,000 mile journey to the Raptors,” describing his Catholic faith, deep love for his father, and his childhood at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Bafia, Cameroon where he wrestled to get out of his father and Father Armel Collins Ndjama’s hope that he would one day become a priest. The story is heart wrenching as Siakam learned of his father’s death while he was in the U.S. and then the murder of Father Collins in Cameroon.
Siakam’s incredible road to the NBA victory was literally won with blood, sweat, and many tears.
There are of course other athletes of Christian and other faiths – but the voice of the Raptor’s Herbie Khun who’s been with the team since the very beginning November 1, 1995 – is an inspiration to end this short story on. Khun is a Christian and an ambassador for harmony among religions in Canada. He’s been a Chaplain in the CFL, NBA, and the National Track and Field team. In this video Khun talks with a group of students from Faithful Living: Celebrating commonality in our diversity – a World of interfaith harmony. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXmZZBtGEnE
A sense of team spirit and belonging is something we cannot live without – be it family, work, friends, church, on-line, however you choose to live with ‘team spirit,’ God means for us to be together in friendship, love, grace, and forgiveness.
Thank you #Toronto Raptors for bringing us all together in Toronto!
Click here to watch Context’s: Fan culture communities (Episode 1830)