When a fan goes to a game, the pregame ceremonies usually include announcing starting lineups, hearing your country’s national anthem, and soaking in the excitement exuding from thousands of fans packed into one arena. But if you go see the Toronto Maple Leafs or Toronto Raptors play a home game this year, you’ll get your daily dose of virtue signaling as well.
The pregame ceremonies of Scotiabank Arena in Toronto will include a “land acknowledgment,” which basically means that they will announce to the crowd that the land on which the stadium was built was once owned by indigenous people.
Many people claim that this helps with the “reconciliation process” between the indigenous and the current citizens of Canada.
Or at least, that’s what those who choose to ignore reality believe. In the adult world where mature people actually use their critical thinking skills to interpret history and observe the world, we realize that it’s the most pointless gesture ever.
A common narrative is that any nation that is currently established in power should feel guilty of its existence because it only came at the expense of conquering multiple people groups that inhabited the land before them. While the latter part is true, nations should not feel guilty about being successful in conquest.
Conquering other nations was the way in which empires expanded for thousands of years up until roughly the 19th century. Nation went to war against nation, with the winner taking their captives’ land for themselves. It was bloody, brutal, and ugly, but it was just the way things were done.
Furthermore, before the Canadian Indians owned that part of Toronto, dozens of other people groups likely claimed that land for themselves. When it was time for them to expand, they came, they saw, and they conquered
But for some reason, the NHL and NBA feel like doing this “land acknowledgment” will somehow make indigenous people feel better and paint themselves as noble advocates for justice. To be fair, both conquerors and conquered are guilty of doing incredible wrongs to the other side and any honest assessment of history will reveal that.
But land acknowledgments don’t make up for all the conflict or unsettled wrongs. Past wrongs need to be left in the past, not settled in the present. We can certainly learn from it so we don’t make the same mistakes again, but we don’t need to try to settle conflicts and wrongdoings from hundreds of years ago.
And we don’t need to ruin the experience of sports games in the process.