I am not going to apology for splitting hairs over the use of Nation when describing the fans of certain NHL teams or the co-opting of the term for profit. No, I won’t because I’m Canadian and we’ve been splitting nations and attempting to sew them back together, and to the larger fabric, since our inception.
For those of you reading this in Canada I realize invoking the term ‘nation’ elicits the same type of reaction as one might receive while running through Calgary’s Cowboys Dance Hall with nothing on but your Tikkanen jersey. However, as a member of Leafs Nation, I’d like to take a swing at the term Nation being used south of the border.
The word "nation" is derived from the Latin term nātĭō, meaning: the action of being born; birth; or the goddess personifying birth; or a breed, stock, kind, species, race; or a tribe, or set of people; or a nation or people. The etymology of the word nation implies, in part, ancestry and descent.
A nation then is a historically constituted set of people with shared characteristics, and to that I would add ‘a recognized set of people’. Any of you that cringed when I first mentioned ‘Leafs Nation’ can’t disagree with my point on recognition! For this reason, I would argue that the good fans of Nashville, and this goes for fans of other ‘new’ NHL franchises, are not Nations. My apologies to Mr.McCann but there is neither the history, and resulting ancestry, nor the numbers in places like Nashville for fans to carry the status of Nation. Once a history evolves, like 11 Cups and 40 years since one, and generations of fans spread to the diaspora, Preds fans will move from ‘legion ‘?, ‘army’?, ‘herd’? to Nation.
This is not to deny the success of newer franchises nor diminish the significance of fans’ loyalty nor a team’s short history but using Nation indiscriminately does diminish the significance, strength and size of sporting Nations.
The other bothersome aspect of using Nation that diminishes its significance is the co-opting of “Leafs Nation” by the Maple Leafs, on the official website, and LeafsTV. While the passion may unite us all, the Nation belongs to the fans, so Sundin should not be offering membership in the “Leafs Nation Fan Club” nor should Jodie Vance proudly announce the “official station, Leafs Nation.” Nobody or pension fund owns “Leafs Nation” so co-opting this term to market to us what we already own as a mindset and affiliation is presumptuous and insulting.