Toronto Raptors fans young and old rally in Toronto's Jurassic Park


The Raptors Are Uniting Canadians And Strengthening Father-Daughter Relationships

Jun 13, 2019

I’m old enough to know that your home team making it to the finals in a sports championship is a rare event.

I can count on one hand the number of times it’s happened in my lifetime. It’s a historical event, a magical moment and so thrilling to cheer for and be part of the fandemonium when you’re young. That’s why I’ve coaxed my daughter off her phone, out of her room and away from her friends to sit down with her dad and watch the Toronto Raptors in the team's first-ever NBA finals. In the blink of an eye, we went from having rarely watched a basketball game, to showing all the signs of being totally hooked: screaming at the TV, shaking our heads in sheer awe and jumping to our feet in ecstasy or disbelief.

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I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t exactly a sporty family. My experience with team sports went south somewhere in middle school when I was coerced into joining a local hockey league. I have total recall of that queasy feeling in the pit of my prepubescent gut when my blades hit the ice. Parents, kids and coaches, all screaming from the bleachers. The smashing of sticks on boards. The relentless pressure to “use my body” to take some other hapless little kid out. The only goal I ever scored was a total fluke — a long, dancing, spinning stumble from centre ice to the net with every bounce of the puck somehow going my way.

My daughter is a chip off the old block. While she loves gymnastics and dance, she’s not interested in team sports. When she was little, we indulged in a little hockey by watching Boston’s annual shellacking of the Toronto Maple Leafs. To her, they were the “Bad Bostons.” To avoid this annual pain, we kind of cooled on watching team sports.

That is, until the Raptors.

I was surprised when she finally agreed to watch a game with me. Like so many Canadians, we’ve been immersed in all things “We The North.” As much as we tried to resist the gathering spirit that has been sweeping the entire country, the draw was simply too powerful. Like millions of other Canadian basketball newbies, we finally sat down to experience a game and wound up experiencing so much more.

Dads of tween girls know that bonding at this age isn’t as easy as it once was. We aren’t always the ones they turn to and sometimes, it’s hard to find where we fit in.

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But suddenly we’re bonding over watching Beyoncé, Barack and Drake courtside. We’re connecting about whether the contact was fair or foul. And like old pros, we’re debating the merits of plays and players. But mostly, we’re simply “oohing" and "aahing” as another arcing three-point shot seamlessly slips through the net. We’re sharing the agony and the ecstasy of the world’s most superb athletes achieving the seemingly impossible. And we’re loving every minute of it — together.

This father-daughter time watching the series transcends winning or losing. As a family, we’re witnessing a country come together to watch athletes show the power of never giving up, staying in the game and always taking a shot.

These are the magical moments that we’ll replay long after the final whistle has blown.

Article Author Craig Stephens
Craig Stephens

Craig Stephens is an award-winning writer and documentary film producer who is passionate about developing projects that explore social issues and innovation. He is currently shooting and producing Long Ride Home, a project that explores innovative healing paths for post-traumatic stress. Craig lives in Toronto with his wife, a writer, theatre producer, and podcaster, and their tween daughter – his most challenging and rewarding project to date!  You can catch his latest work at

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