This is the latest installment of our “Dear Ms. Etiquette” series, where our columnist untangles the issues that happen when people and money get together.
Dear Ms. Etiquette:
It’s possible that the Raptors will win an NBA championship. And as a responsible Canadian, I’m concerned. I would like to celebrate (if we are so lucky as to be able to celebrate). But are we going to act like all those knuckleheads from Philadelphia when they won the Super Bowl? Is it inevitable that we’re going to have to express our sports euphoria through use of projectiles and smashing stuff? Can I do it better? Is there a way to do a sports riot in a more, you know, Canadian way? Help!
We’re not saying the Raptors will win games six or seven. We’re not saying that because that would be a jinx. We’re not saying that a championship could arrive on these Ontario shores for the first time in 26 years. But we’re saying if it were to happen, the world could finally answer a lingering question: Is it possible to conduct a pointless, destructive sports riot politely? Responsibly? Like a Canadian. And, we’re wondering in particular, being the avatars of financial responsibility and thoughtful planning, without it costing too much money?
Post-championship rioting is an inescapable sports reality — in AD 532, angry chariot-racing fans burned down half of Constantinople — as well as an incredibly expensive waste of money. In 1992, rioting Bulls fans in Chicago cost the city an estimated $10 million. But Canadians are nice! Overlooking Drake’s court-side antics, of course. And the fact that Raptors fans briefly cheered a gruesome Kevin Durant injury in game 5 (we suspect they were double-agents from Buffalo…). But we’re different! People tell us Canadians that we’re nice all the time, and we even brag about it sometimes (humble brag — politesse and all that, of course). So we believe that we can riot better. (Let’s not mention those hockey riots in Montreal and Vancouver. Hockey doesn’t count.)
With that goal in mind, here are 10 tips for a relentlessly polite post-championship celebration.
1. Always Remember to Leave a Nice Note
The Polite Rioter always avoids windshield demolition but, let’s face it, sometimes you climb on a car and the Riverdance act gets out of hand. The courteous response? Leave a discreet note tucked under the car’s windshield wiper with an apology, your email address, and the promise of financial restitution.
2. Instead of Spray-Painting a Giant Middle Finger on the Side of the CN Tower…
Guys. Spray paint has many toxic chemicals in it. Have you thought about what your revelrous pals would be breathing in? And it’s also so pricey to remove! The Detroit-based company My Graffiti Removal Guy charges $100 for 15 square feet of graffiti removal, $20 for an additional 15 square feet, and then bills by the square foot after that. It adds up! But as any parent of a toddler will tell you, there’s a wide array of fully washable markers available. Twelve-pack of Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Markers? About $5.99. Peace of mind that comes from knowing you expressed your post-championship joy in a vibrant and easily removable fashion? Priceless.
3. Instead of Smashing all the Storefronts on Yonge Street...
When the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1993, Montreal fans caused $2.5 million in private-property damage, shattering storefronts up and down the city’s main commercial drag. But instead of smashing windows, how about soaping them? There’s nothing like a good clean-cut window-soaping to express your feelings about your city’s first international sports championship in 26 years!
Plus: Voila! Clean windows at no cost! It’s a civic win-win.
4. Never Let Your Pals Tumble off Streetlamps…
In 2018, Philadelphia’s police department smeared the city’s streetlights with Crisco to discourage people from climbing poles if the Eagles won the Super Bowl. (Or to make it more hilarious if they tried? Jury’s out.) The Polite Rioter always carries white cotton gloves in his or her back pocket: one discreet finger-swipe tells you whether you need to find something else to climb. Don’t forget to share your results with your fellow rioters, who’ll be thankful for the heads-up.
Also the Crisco didn’t work. Check YouTube for triumphantly greasy Philadelphians to prove it.
5. Remember, if You Can’t Chant Something Nice in a Mob, Don’t Chant Anything at All
Lots of celebrated sports franchises have associated songs, from the Chicago Blackhawks “Chelsea Dagger” to “Vasco da Gama,” the anthem of Brazilian soccer team Vasco. The Raptors, who only recently emerged from their nascent years as a purple-pajama-clad expansion team, don’t have an official anthem but a local radio station adapted Drake’s “Forever” with new lyrics for the Finals. (Sample: “It may not mean nothing to y’all / This team is making history / The Raptors could win it all / We The North forever man.”) Did we mention it was written hastily?
Be a mensch and carry a handful of lyric sheets for those rioters who aren’t as familiar with the tune, then hand them out so everyone can get in on the singalong fun.
6. Or Better Yet, Adapt a Better Drake Song…
Don’t leave it up to local radio. Local media has been ravaged by the internet economy and doesn’t have the money to hire hip-hop song-adapters as they did in the ’80s and ’90s. Help them out by writing new lyrics to a far more obvious Drake song: “Started From the Bottom (Now We’re Here)."
How about “Started From Damon Stoudamire (Now We’re Champs).”
7. Instead of Setting off Fireworks…
After the Giants’ World Series win in 2014, several police officers were injured by exploding fireworks. Impolite! Who needs cherry bombs, flash crackers, and bear bangers — which are all illegal in Canada anyway — when you can have bubbles!
8. Or Ribbon Wands!
Nothing says “national pride” like making a riot into a moving tribute to Canadian rhythmic gymnast Lori Fung, who won a gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, the country’s sole gold medal in the sport.
9. How about a Molotov Mocktail???
It’s always polite to offer someone a cocktail, but it’s never polite to offer someone a Molotov cocktail. So deposit your empty beer bottles in the nearest recycling container and break out compressed-air confetti cannons, available online in twelve packs for about a buck apiece.
10. A Rioter’s Best Friend: Comprehensive Auto Insurance!
It’s hardly ever polite to overturn a car and set it ablaze. But should you sense that it could happen by accident, check the glove compartment to ascertain the quality of the owner’s insurance. In the U.S., damage to cars during “civil disturbances” is typically offered as optional coverage, with about two-thirds of Americans signing up. In Canada, it’s offered as additional coverage under “Specified Perils.”
Here’s to specified perils! It’s always polite to specify first!
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