Forgive me for being again tonight utterly opinionated and resolutely (French) Canadian. Circumstances… I’ll get back to my usual cheerful tennis-loving self, getting ready for the ATP World Tour Finals and then getting ready for the Davis Cup finals (and cheering for Argentina), after that, I promise. But right now, I am just an indignant Canadian with French ancestors due to the ads that were revealed at the same time as the announcement that the Canada – France first-round Davis Cup would be held in Vancouver was made.
Indignant is, actually, quite a weak word to describe my reaction to this ad campaign from Tennis Canada, of which you can read a little more in this article from the Vancouver Sun. Although of a little bit of a juvenile humour, the ad featuring Vasek Pospisil is a bit funny. The one featuring Milos Raonic, on the other hand, really isn’t.
Here’s what is says: “Hey France, I’ve got a 151 m.p.h. serve. Try returning that with a baguette.”
This is a complete lack of respect from Tennis Canada towards the opponent, as well as a gesture that spreads a stereotype towards the French that triggers the old prejudice and rivalry French – English that has been in existence ever since Canada exists. And to me, it is intolerable.
Yes, everyone knows about the French stereotype. Well, it is only a stereotype and it is not something that actually exists. Why spread such an image of Canada’s Davis Cup rivals, Tennis Canada?
At the same time, a good proportion of Canada’s population has French roots, and there are a lot of French immigrants in the country. Did they think about it? I don’t think so. If they did, they obviously didn’t care.
And that kind of gesture is, in my mind, completely unacceptable. Isn’t tennis a gentlemanly sport? Where’s the gentlemanly conduct in those ads? I cannot see it and I am very disappointed to see that such an institution as Tennis Canada can stoop that low in order to promote an event, and all in the name of a so-called “patriotism”. It is one thing to try and boost the chances of a team by playing in a 4,500 seats sports centre in a time zone 9 hours away from where the rival team is from (although questionable, these guys are professionals and are used to such travelling issues, plus they’ll be there days ahead anyway). It is, however, a whole other matter making a publicity campaign that not only insults the rival, but also a good part of the country’s population.
By doing so, Tennis Canada will ensure that a good proportion of French Canadians will end up rooting for France during the tie. And I will be one of those Canadian-born French speaking individuals who, from February 10-12, will be chanting “Allez les Bleus!” from the comfort of my living room.
My most sincere apologies to Vasek Pospisil, Daniel Nestor and Milos Raonic, as well as whoever will be chosen to be the fourth man of the Canadian squad. I respect you, and like watching you play (a lot), but I cannot accept that my roots can be thus insulted in the name of a so-called patriotism. You made me live great moments in Davis Cup this year, but hey, I’m French Canadian, with, like a lot of folk from my province, French ancestors, and that publicity campaign is too much. Politics have no place in sport.