Home is where the fan is

Let me say this right off the bat: people are not commodities.
Well, unless you’re a member of a perennially-lousy sports franchise making anywhere near the league average salary. Then you can get bet your paycheque you’ll be shipped out to some more financially-stable team in exchange for anything from future draft picks to cash to Gatorade buckets.
Ask any eternally-grateful former member of the Miami Marlins or Houston Astros if you don’t believe me.
But it’s always been an interesting sociological exercise to witness the ownership, as it were, that a community claims over a famous individual who, at any point in history, called that place home.
I think of this as today’s edition of the Times proudly trumpets the achievements of 15-year-old diving sensation Molly Carlson, who won gold over the weekend at the Union Americana de Natacion Junior Pan American Diving Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
Carlson has lived most of her life in Thunder Bay and is a proud member of the Thunder Bay Diving Club. But the bespectacled redhead was born right here in Fort Frances.
So the question (for those who care to debate it) is this: Is she Thunder Bay’s favourite daughter? Or is her real hometown the place where she was born?
Many would argue both sides of the equation. Yes, Carlson moved away from the Fort at a very early age, but she still has family in town and elsewhere in Rainy River District.
So, which community gets to call her their champion?
It could be stated both places can stake equal rights to Carlson as being from their community. But there are those out there who would dismiss that theory out of hand—presenting a case full of biased reasons as to why she “belongs” to them.
Carlson is hardly the only example, local or otherwise, that sparks such a debate. The most noteworthy similar situation around these parts involves, of course, Chicago Blackhawks’ defenceman and two-time Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith.
The blueliner was born in Winnipeg but moved to Fort Frances with his family when he was two. Keith first laced up his blades under the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association (as a member of the Times’ Tigers to boot) when he was five and continued to be part of the FFMHA until he turned 14.
That’s when his family moved to Penticton, B.C., where the 30-year-old still resides today.
So, who gets to say Duncan Keith is theirs?
Well, using the Molly Carlson theory, that would be Winnipeg. But have you ever heard the phrase, “Winnipeg’s Duncan Keith?”
Of course, there are many folks who boast because Keith learned the game that’s made him known throughout the hockey world right here in Fort Frances, he certainly should be known as “Fort Frances’ Duncan Keith.”
Or does the fact his permanent residence is in Penticton (and the fact he has spent both his days with the Stanley Cup there in 2010 and again this summer) means he qualifies as “Penticton’s Duncan Keith?”
The debate rages on—and it applies to other celebrities, sporting or otherwise.
Is Wayne Gretzky “property” of Brantford, Ont., his birthplace and childhood home? Or does he belong to Edmonton—site of his most glorious NHL days with the Oilers?
What about tennis star Milos Raonic? Does his birthplace of Yugoslavia (now Montenegro) supersede the fact he moved to Canada at the age of three, where he has become the most successful player in this country’s history?
How about Ben Johnson? OK, never mind that one. After the embarrassment of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, I have no problem stepping aside if Jamaica wants him back from Canada.
It’s all a matter of perspective, and how important it is to each individual and each community to have someone well-known be someone they can call their own.
Why, look at me. I was born in Montreal, raised in New Sarepta, Alta., became an honourary Newfoundlander, and now am settled in Devlin.
One difference between myself and the aforementioned personalities? At last report nobody was claiming me.
In fact, if rumours are true, I believe all four places deny having anything to do with me at all.
Hey, Northwest Territories—interested in adding one more to your census count?