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Montreal university theology course explores link between Habs fandom and God

BTPBTP Registered User regular
edited January 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
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Montreal university theology course explores link between Habs fandom and God
January, 16, 2009 - 05:36 pm Blatchford, Andy - (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

MONTREAL - Quebec's century-long bond to the Montreal Canadiens has been called passion, and even obsession. Now a university theologian has branded it as religion.

The Swiss-born Universite de Montreal professor said the ubiquitous relics and rituals linked to the Habs struck him when he arrived in the city a few years ago.

The similarities prompted Olivier Bauer to launch a crusade - in the form of a university course - to explore the many ties between a team that hails its sweater as La Sainte Flanelle - or holy flannel - and spiritual devotion.

"It was a divine inspiration," Bauer said of the idea for his new French-language class, the Religion of the Canadiens.

"It was clear that the Canadiens were a kind of religion. For me, it was amazing that in Montreal there was a hockey jersey that is holy."

To back his thesis, Bauer refers to nicknames of the Canadiens' most notable "prayer leaders," including Saint Patrick (Patrick Roy), Le Demon Blond - the Blond Demon (Guy Lafleur) - and the team's current saviour, Jesus Price (Carey Price).

He said Canadiens worshippers have long told stories of the ghosts of players past that reside in the Forum - and Bell Centre - rafters, and the many miracles performed by Maurice (Rocket) Richard.

Bauer said while hockey's religious symbols are everywhere in Canada, he believes the faith runs deepest in Quebec's francophone culture.

"The Canadiens are the proof that we have God's blessing," he said of Quebecers' pride in the only major pro sports team that has had a consistent presence in the province over the last 100 years.

"The Canadiens are proof that Quebec is able to win over Toronto, Ottawa, New York or Boston and so on."

The first-ever semester of the 16-week course began earlier this month in a small classroom at the Montreal campus.

Student Mathieu Roy, 22, a native Montrealer who lived in Calgary for eight years, said after experiencing hockey fandom in both cities, he now understands the kind of spiritual weight the Canadiens have on many Quebecers' lives.

"The difference is that over there (in Calgary) it's only just for fun," said the psychology/sociology major.

"There's something more here (in Montreal). Here, everybody plays hockey, everybody's talking about it and people who don't like it, or don't want to talk about it, will feel alone.

"There's not too many people who hate hockey in the province of Quebec."

Rejean Houle, a former Canadiens player and general manager, said the Roman Catholic Church was a big part of his life while growing up in the Quebec mining town of Rouyn-Noranda.

"We were raised with this religion just like we were raised with the history of the Montreal Canadiens - there's a common (thread) there," said Houle, 59, who had the colossal task of trading Saint Patrick, the Hall of Fame goaltending legend.

"People were practising their prayers a lot and going to mass on Sunday, but also listening to the hockey game on Saturday night. That was part of the ritual."

Bauer describes hockey players as the prayer leaders - some are saints and others are traitors.

The toughest of the current lot, who he names as Habs enforcer Georges Laraque, could even be considered the avenging angel.

"He brings some justice on the rink," Bauer said.

After just reading the title, I couldn't help but laugh. But while reading the article, I suddenly thought of the story of "The Sweater", and call me crazy but there could be some weird shred of truth to this.

If you are not aware of the story of "The Sweater", click here. http://beta.nfb.ca/film/sweater/

I'm watching the Canadiens/Senators game right now and they're just going crazy all game long. Personally, I can relate to all of this as I know I watch the Leafs games as much as I can, but I also pretty much watch anything sports in general whenever I can. I probably just focus the most on the Leafs.

I don't know if it's just a Montreal thing, though. I wonder if it's a national thing. Stereotypically speaking, Canada is crazy for hockey. America is crazy for a mix of baseball, football and NASCAR. All of Europe loves soccer (a.k.a. football). You get the idea.

It's an interesting idea. I'd love to see what the course is like.

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Posts

  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    What's Habs?

    Fencingsax on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Hockey team. I had to wiki it though.

    Quid on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    people, for the most part, will always worship something. Zeal and devotion, however, does not make something religious.

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  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    also, fuck the habs

    da brooooooooooons!

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  • AegisAegis Fear My Dance Overshot Toronto, Landed in OttawaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I heard this on CBC radio the other day. Quite amusing.

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  • WibodWibod Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    The Sens/Habs game was pretty good except for Spezza on the shootout since he is mortified by the prospect of actually having to shoot. But his stick handling in the OT period kinda makes up for it.

    Wibod on
  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I do believe that this idea is anything but new. Look up "Cargo Cult Science"

    Fencingsax on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Podly on
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  • DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Podly wrote: »
    people, for the most part, will always worship something. Zeal and devotion, however, does not make something religious.

    I heard a few years ago that some sociologists were taking a serious look at the church of Elvis and watching to see how it spread and change to get a better idea of how religions actually get started. They apparently thought that the church of Elvis could eventually become a full bonafide religion.

    Dalboz on
  • JeanJean Heartbroken papa bear Gatineau, QuébecRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Well it did provoke a riot when Maurice Richard was suspended and Colin Campbel was stupid enough to show up at the next home game, back in the day. Some even say that riot was the beggining of the quiet revolution, tough I think that's sretching it too far.

    I wouldn't say it's a religion, but the media can definitively be obsessive about everything related to the Habs, especially when a french player is concerned. I'm a francophone Habs fan myself and I do find they take it way too far at times.

    Also us Habs fan are definitively a bi-polar bunch. A few straight wins and we're heading straight to the Cup, let's plan that parade already.. but a few straight loose and it's all ''let's trade half the team, we're garbadge!!!'''

    Jean on
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  • FagadabaFagadaba Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Haha, funny story. I never was a big fan of hockey, but the few games I went to made me shout and cheer the habs more than I've ever done for anything else. Very contagious indeed.

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  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    When I was younger, back home in Newfoundland everyone was either a Montreal or a Toronto fan. I always thought it would make for a great sociological survey, to see the role religion played in that division.

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  • Grim SqueakerGrim Squeaker Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I've heard quite a few sociological theories that sports and mostly sports team are becoming more and more religion these days. Especially in areas with high secularization (Western Europe, Canada I presume) the devotion of some fans to their sport or team is similar to how other people view their religion. Some examples include:

    - infallibility: team is always the best and will always be the best, even if it's at the bottom of the rankings
    - rivalries: usually with an other local team, the only reason seems to be 'because we've always been against the other team', and can excess in to great fights (soccer hooligans)
    - team building
    - place of worship: stadium or other fan building

    Hell, if you look at sports in areas which are mostly catholic (they have no problem with making anything holy), you can even find monuments dedicated to them. Cycling especially has hundreds of monuments dedicated to riders, courses or even great moments.

    Grim Squeaker on
  • JeanJean Heartbroken papa bear Gatineau, QuébecRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    rivalries: usually with an other local team, the only reason seems to be 'because we've always been against the other team', and can excess in to great fights (soccer hooligans

    Nordiques- Canadiens, anyone :lol:

    Even the rivalry against the Bruins pales in comparaison.

    Check this out : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcihnPoh2EY

    Jean on
    "You won't destroy us, You won't destroy our democracy. We are a small but proud nation. No one can bomb us to silence. No one can scare us from being Norway. This evening and tonight, we'll take care of each other. That's what we do best when attacked'' - Jens Stoltenberg
  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Hardcore Canadian fans are retards. The last time we won the Stanley Cup (in 1993 I think?) they trashed downtown Montreal's main street like a bunch of dumb apes. Funny they don't even mention this in the team's history webpages.

    They are also some of the worst sports fans ever. They will worship the team when they play well but as soon as a player has a bad day he's suddenly the worst piece of shit that has ever walked this earth, expecially if it's the goalie.

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  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Jean wrote: »
    Nordiques-Canadiens, anyone :lol:
    I've always kind of wondered about that. On one hand you have the Montreal "Canadians", from a very Anglophone city (though to be fair, they have always been a major symbol of pride for Francophones) and on the other, the Nordiques, from older, smaller-town Quebec, prominently displaying the Fleur-de-lis. There are some interesting nationalist overtones, before you even get into the hockey itself and the players.

    And good video. Fights where the opposing goalies skate down the ice and join in are the best fights.

    Andrew_Jay on
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