I didn’t arrive in Edmonton until 1989, so I wasn’t around when the City of Champions signs went up around the city. I was, however, somewhat puzzled and disappointed when the decision was made to take that portion of the signs down and I’m certainly interested in seeing what happens when city council re-visits the issue Tuesday.
I don’t have a lot of emotional skin in the game in terms of the origins of the signs and my life certainly doesn’t revolve around how this thing plays out – it won’t change for better or worse no matter what happens – but I find myself pulling for the growing group that is pushing for a return of the moniker. There’s an item about it here.
City of Champions is a saying — whether you identify it with the Edmonton Oilers and Eskimos, other sports teams or individuals in the city or none of the aforementioned – and not an original one at that. Several cities have adopted it. It is three words incorporated into a sign welcoming people to the city. It’s a slogan, although I’m a bit hesitant to even use that word because it’s somehow taken on a extra-cheesy meaning during this debate.
Councillor Michael Oshry, who represents the area I live in but most certainly does not represent my thoughts on this particular issue, feels the city doesn’t need a slogan at all. “Slogans are out of date and they don’t work … at the end of the day the city means different things to different people and you can’t encompass what it means to everybody by a slogan.” The editorial board at the Edmonton Journal is onside with Oshry.
WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE?
Oshry, who attaches the irritating hashtag #bringbacktherathole to any debate he engages in about the issue on Twitter, says slogans “don’t work.” Don’t work? Work as in, what? They’re words on a sign. How can they work or not work? If Oshry means they don’t fit, I’d like to know how they don’t fit. Do those words define everyone and everything in and about the city? No, of course not.
That said, is Edmonton not a City of Champions? Whether you’re talking about what happens on a hockey rink or in any other area of athletic competition, about culture, arts, education or about the unquestionable civic pride residents have shown in banding together through some unquestionably difficult times over the years, how is the saying, slogan if you will, City of Champions a negative? What’s the downside? Who is being excluded?
This city is defined by the people in it, not words on a sign. I get that part. No disagreement here are all. I just don’t get why that particular part of the signs came down in the first place. All the signs are dated as hell from top to bottom, so if the decision had been made to take them down in their entirety and update them, then fine. All good. But making the argument the words don’t fit? No sale here.
The look of this city as changed considerably since I arrived 27 years ago, and for the better in most cases – I was never big on that cement-pebbled look that made up a lot of building exteriors in the downtown area, not to mention the signs in question. I thought the signs were ugly the minute I arrived. The sentiment behind the “slogan?” I liked that just fine. Still do.
Where do you come down on this?
WHILE I’M AT IT
- I’m happy for former Oiler Rocky Thompson, who hoisted the Memorial Cup as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires on the weekend. Thompson, known to many during his playing days as a wild-eyed tough guy when he broke in to the NHL with the Calgary Flames, always has been more than a willing set of knuckles. He’s a sharp guy who has paid his dues since entering the coaching ranks.
- Like Todd Nelson and Geoff Ward, who spent many seasons as an assistant with Claude Julien in Boston, Thompson is one of many quality coaches who passed through Edmonton during tough times and didn’t really have a chance to shine and stick around.
- I’m going with the Nashville Predators over the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in the Stanley Cup final. Probably a bad bet given that the Predators are hurting, but I’d like to see GM David Poile hoist the Cup after all the years he got the job done on shoestring budget Music City and I know the honky-tonks down on Broadway will be rocking. Fun city.