TORONTO SPORTS SCENE
The Toronto sports scene is well represented in the North American professional leagues. We have teams in four of the five major sports leagues. There are professional sports games to attend throughout the calendar year if you like. The last two decades has had its ups and downs for each Toronto sports team. Unfortunately more downs than ups. However, that is all turning around now as all teams are very competitive and on the rise.
One of the issues Canadian teams face is the weaker Canadian dollar compared to the American dollar because all the players are paid in American funds. Currently one Canadian dollar is worth between 70-80 cents American. Another issue is that some American players prefer to play in their home country, although that is not as prevalent as it was years ago. Most of the basketball players are American, baseball players can be Latino and American, with a mix of other nationalities as well. Hockey players are mostly Canadian, followed by Europeans and Americans. Toronto also has a Canadian Football team which sometimes gets lost in amongst the other teams, although the league is competitive in it’s own right.
Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL Hockey)
Founded in 1917 as the Toronto Arenas, the team changed their name to the Maple Leafs in 1927, now more commonly known a just the Leafs. They are probably are the most followed team in the city, a lot of that has to do with how long they’ve been around with fans passing from one generation to the next. They haven’t won the league championship (Stanley Cup) since 1967, the longest drought in the league, although they have improved tremendously in the last year and are on the rise. Their season is October through to April, but can run into June with playoffs. They play at the Air Canada Centre with tickets ranging from 100$ CAD and up, way up. An NHL game is worth a look, although watching it at a local pub is fun too. If the team is good and wins deep into the playoffs, the city is electric and consumed by them, a real fun atmosphere.
Toronto Raptors (NBA Basketball)
The Raptors were an expansion team in 1995 along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, the first two teams in Canada for the NBA. The Grizzlies eventually moved to Memphis in 2001, but the Raptors remain and are a huge part of the Toronto sports scene, although it wasn’t always that way. They had many years of mediocre teams as most of the best players are American and for a long time they preferred to play in their home country. Now that is not necessarily the case, although it still happens occasionally. However, the Raptors are very competitive and near the top of the league, making it into the league semi-finals in 2016. NBA games are very entertaining because the crowd is very involved, there’s always some form of entertainment on the court when there is a stop in the action, unlike any other sport. The Raptors have made their mark on the Toronto sports scene and have a loyal following. They also play at the Air Canada Centre and share it with the Maple Leafs.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were founded as an expansion team in 1977, they struggled the first few years as would be expected. However in 1992 and 1993 they one back to back world series, a very impressive accomplishment for a 15 year old franchise. However, after the 1993 season the team was dismantled and the team went through twenty years of mediocrity, but came back into prominence in the 2015 season with a playoff appearance, their first in 21 years. The Blue Jays also have a loyal following with many fans jumping on the proverbial bandwagon when they do well. The city is also vibrant when the Jays win, the stadium and bars are full, and jerseys, flags, and banners can be seen all over town. A baseball game can be relaxing and enjoyable as the weather is generally pleasant, if it rains they close the roof, so the climate while watching is always comfortable.
TFC (MLS Soccer)
Soccer, as it’s known to be called in North America, made a comeback in the early 1990’s, with TFC’s inaugural season in 2007, they were Canada’s first team in the league. The league is the top soccer league in North America but would not be the quality of play of the European leagues, but still very good. Many Euro players come over to play at the end of their European careers and do quite well here, most notably, David Beckham and Thierry Henry. The season runs from March to October, with playoffs in November and December. In 2016 TFC made it to the league final but lost to Seattle. Soccer has a loyal following because of the ethnic diversity in Toronto, many people grew up watching soccer in their home country and have since immigrated to Canada and now follow TFC. They play at the newly Renovated BMO field.
Toronto Argonauts (CFL Football)
The team was founded in 1873 and is still around today, although they struggle to stay in the spotlight amongst all the other teams, as well as the many other entertainment options in Toronto. The CFL is a league below the NFL which is the American version. The CFL season runs from approximately June through November, culminating with the Grey Cup.
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