I would like to preface this that while I'm living in Regina these days, I still own a home in Edmonton, and thus still fall into that nice little "taxpayer" group - so don't even try me there.
Tonight, Edmonton City Council has decided in a 7-5 vote to do away with the slogan “City of Champions”.
I’m gonna go ahead and say it. I don’t give a damn about Grey Cups, Stanley Cups, or for that matter sports in general. I’m a fan, and I enjoy the entertainment some sports bring me, but that’s all it is. I get caught up in hype, cheer for who I deem the "good guys" that night, and so on. If things don’t go my team’s way, there’s always next time. To me, that's a healthy sports fandom.
In some cases, a team can be bigger than their game, serving as tributes to the communities they play in, but realistically, professional sports teams and their success doesn’t change the world. With ALL due respect, there isn't a Sports Team in Edmonton - and hardly any other city - that can boast that kind of a reputation. Furthermore, they hardly save lives. It feels good to go and cheer something, but a sports team’s win/loss record is no more vital to the spirit of a community than a Nickelback concert passing through… unless it’s in Hanna… I guess…
Some were quick to support the decision of 7 councillors with clearly no other pressing issues to discuss, saying that a city relying on former sports glory to market the city is archaic and obsolete.
Others have said that it’s time for Edmonton to find a unique way to brand themselves.
Edmonton Councillor, Michael Oshry was the first to bring the motion to Council for an official decision. In a blog post, he touted that “Make Something Edmonton” should be a theme moving forward, while at the same time limiting the use of the term “City of Champions” to the Oilers and the Eskimos. He continued to go on and on about other sports cities and their success, while calling it "humiliating" to refer to Edmonton as the "City of Champions" when the Oilers or Eskimos are losing. Sounds like someone is taking their sports fandom a little to the extreme, in my opinion.
Even the Mayor himself, whom I haven’t had the chance to meet, so I will reserve my personal opinions said that Edmonton is in a “post tagline era”. Does that mean no more hashtagging? #damn #MakeItYEG
So yeah... the trophy shelves have been a little bare as of late... I guess that means Edmonton is a City of Losers, right?
I was a part of 8 Radiothons for the Stollery Children’s Hospital. During those events, Edmontonians raised RECORD NUMBERS to save the lives of sick children. Those people are CHAMPIONS.
I personally witnessed Edmonton’s theatre and arts community grow into something dynamic and vibrant. THOSE people are CHAMPIONS.
There has been more done in Edmonton than any other city in Canada to combat poverty and homelessness among their population. The battle isn’t over, but the fighters are already CHAMPIONS.
When an entire community, Slave Lake, damn near burned to the ground completely, Edmontonians FILLED SEMI TRAILERS full of water, supplies, and everything imaginable to support their neighbours. Championship Material right there.
Those are just a few things I can think of off the top of my head – and not one of them had to do with a damn hockey game.
In 2001, I moved to Edmonton from Red Deer. I was going to start my time at NAIT to hopefully get into radio school and make something of myself. While it didn’t define me in any way, I still remember my buddy and I breaking into hysterics as we passed that old brown sign that said “Welcome To Edmonton, City of Champions”. The onset of pride in my new home was instant.
I wasn’t born in Edmonton, but it will always be home. Personal memories and accomplishments aside, every time I check in to see what’s happening in the City of... uh... , I feel a tremendous sense of pride.
Now, to the naysayers that will proclaim that I’m taking this way too seriously… You’re wrong.
Taking a slogan way too seriously would be dedicating city time, resources, and money to worry about something so trivial. Taking a slogan way too seriously would be using it as a “brand” to define your city, rather than any of the MYRIAD of other things you could talk about. I LIKE the light up bridge… The River Valley is still the most amazing place on Earth to get lost in, and hell, even the “bad parts of town” aren’t that bad anymore!
So… the next time I make my way home for a night at Tony’s Pizza Palace, decide to test my dancing/singing skills at Cook County Saloon, go for a run in Hawrelak Park or even brave West Ed on a Saturday, I will always think of how much happiness I’ve had in The City… of Insecure Officials and overzealous “Entrepreneurs”.
Let’s Go Blackhawks!
PS - Mr. Oshry, if the missing "City of Champions" sign from the south entrance to the city truly is in your fire pit, then I hope you are turning yourself in to EPS for destruction of city property, vandalism, and what I'm guessing is an illegally sized fire. Then again, you are a rebel.