Toronto Maple Leafs, the video game, and the corporate trap

Dear editor,


I am a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I am not proud of it.

By “fan”, I don’t mean the guy at the bar barely talking about the club, and ultimately criticizing it. I mean the guy on the Toronto Maple Leafs Facebook page arguing daily with other Leafs fans over mundane subjects to pass the time until the next Leafs game.

This whole ordeal with the NHL lockout got me thinking. This entire issue has me depressed. Coming home after a long day at school and watching Boston spank the Leafs 7– or 8–nothing, believe it or not, makes my day that much better.

When the NHL lockout started, I needed to find a way to resist the slavery of consumption, the greedy millionaires and billionaires who earn more money than they could ever spend. Instead of wasting their brains and lives with me playing a common shooting video game, my friends waste their brains and lives playing EA Sports’ NHL 13 with each other.

But I refused to purchase that game. It was my only way to resist the corporate cogs that put more emphasis on the money than on the love of the game.

The past three years, my stress from life, school, and work has been met by 82 Leafs games between October and April. I consider it my reward for actually being a dutiful citizen. I never wanted to do these things, but hockey made it easier to accept. Many little boys put up with their teachers’ crap at school, knowing that soon they’ll be outside playing foot hockey or mini-sticks.

In October, I stood at the cash register at Shoppers Drug Mart where I used to work. I clung to the receipt for NHL 13. I asked myself: what did I just do?

I have never felt more disgusted. Where is the power to the people? Why aren’t people protesting the NHL lockout? Where is our voice? Instead, I’m paying some rich team owner and a bunch of jocks 60 bucks for a game that’ll do me more harm than good.

This got me thinking about the big picture. Why do we put our faith in rich politicians who pretend to work with our best interests in mind? In reality, their only function is to further their own status in the political paradigm.

I got a speeding ticket the other day. My first speeding ticket ever. Fifty dollars. The government says I got to pay 50 bucks because of some guy they say is the cop and who operates in the “name of the law” (whatever that means). The government says it’s a rule that every citizen must obey because they say so and that’s that, and if we have anything else to say on the matter it’s “bye bye”: we get fined, we get a criminal record, we got no way to get a job, or we go to prison.

I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree that someone gets to tell me what to do. I’m sick and tired of people whose faces I don’t even see telling me what’s allowed and what’s not.

I recently watched a documentary called Taxi to the Dark Side, about a taxi driver in the Middle East. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, a taxi driver took off for work and never came back home. U.S. forces took him into custody. He was found dead five days later. U.S. soldiers had hung the taxi driver by his arms and legs. He stood upright for five days until he died.

When the filmmakers investigated further, they did not find evidence on the American side to justify the torture and murder.

How many others are treated like this under the radar: killed, leaving their families and loved ones forever, in the name of the “War on Terror”—or any conflict, for that matter?

At what point do the other human beings on this planet get a say in what’s happening? When do I get to attend an NHL and NHLPA meeting? When do I get to talk to the Prime Minister about the low speed limit on Winston Churchill? When do the taxi driver’s wife and kids get closure regarding his torture and murder by the United States government?

The people in charge aren’t getting it right. We need some social justice in the world. And me standing with NHL 13 in my hand, my wallet 60 dollars lighter, doesn’t make me too optimistic that we’ll ever get any.

Regina Spektor—one of my favorite musicians—puts it best: “Power to the people? We don’t want it. We want pleasure.”


Sami Karaman

Fourth-year, English


  1. Sami,

    I agree with most of what you say and I can see the causal relationship between your feelings of powerlessness relating to the lockout and how that feeling extends into other aspects of your life. I’m looking forward to the satirical take on this one as well…maybe something involving the abuses of children as labourers who are forced to make your video games. UTM has comedians aplenty.

    I read your last letter as a funny take on a common experience and I think reading it in any other way is misreading the piece. You managed to make a point (there would be less congestion if there was a second Starbucks) while also humorously recounting familiar situations (the initial confusion many felt when first ordering at Starbucks). This letter is different, it does not seem to be written for the purpose of humour but, once again, I can relate.

    I recently got a $30 parking ticket from the school even though I had paid the ludicrous $13 fee (there are better [and much worse] rates in Toronto; why charge students this much for parking? And this isn’t even concerning the cost of parking passes which is a whole other issue) to cover the 4.5 hours I was on campus. Parking services told me they could do nothing and I had to schedule a meeting with the City of Mississauga. I went and even though it wasn’t expunged, it was thankfully reduced and I only had to pay $15. Still, the whole situation was kind of strange and annoying and yes, I did feel powerless (and that is not to say I moped around and felt sorry for myself). Sure, it was only $30 and in the grand scheme it really means nothing…but I couldn’t let it go.

    I’m a pretty cynical person as it is, but I do believe there are some great politicians (Dan McTeague was one) out there who have intentions that extend beyond their own well-being. The same for the police, but to a lesser extent. Some people, I assume, would read this and think something like “Stop whining and get involved” but I think it would be a mistake to think that because there is only so much you can do. Moreover, by simply stating your feelings you are taking a step in the right direction, regardless of other people respond.

    There are myriad injustices in the world, and there are just as many people fighting against them. The incidents you raise are beyond your control, but hopefully, in due time, you will be in a position to really prevent them.

    From one Leaf fan to another: “I feel the most heartfelt sympathy for your plight” (no sarcasm intended).

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