How will you celebrate Canada's birthday?

Thu, Jul 1
Canadian flagCris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty ImagesJuly 1 is Canada Day, the national holiday for the country to the north.

Every American knows a thing or two about Independence Day: Stars and Stripes, fireworks, the American Revolution, barbecues, yadda yadda. But as true World citizens, we cannot overlook July 1. No, not LeBron James' free agency -- it's Canada Day!

Sure, they have publicly funded health care and great maple syrup, but here are a few sports tidbits I bet you didn't know about our neighbors to the north:

1. Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, is from Almonte, Ontario. That's right: We give Canada all the credit in the world for hockey and Mr. Peach Basket himself bleeds red and white. Nearly 120 years after founding the sport, basketball remains most popular outside his native country. No wonder Chris Bosh wants to leave Toronto.

2. Canadians dominated the first five years of the Boston Marathon. Few cities showcase as much American pride and heritage as Boston, so when Canadian-born Ronald J. MacDonald finished first in just the second annual running of the race (1898), Americans vowed to forever brand him a fast-food clown. Not really. But MacDonald inspired another Canadian, Jack Caffery, to win in 1900 and 1901.

3. Canada has two national sports, hockey in the winter and lacrosse in the summer. So 50 states can decide on one national pastime but 13 provinces have to find a middle ground? That whole constitutional monarchy thing is confusing.

4. Canada lost a potential gold medal in the 1987 World Junior Hockey Championships because of a 20-minute fight in the tournament's final game. The brawl -- started by a Soviet slash to one of Canada's best players -- could only be stopped by officials turning off the arena's lights. Both teams were disqualified, making Finland the winner by default.

5. In Game 2 of the 1992 World Series between the Blue Jays and Braves, the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard accidentally flew the flag of Canada upside down. Embarrassed by their mistake and eager to make amends, they offered to travel to the SkyDome in Toronto to help conduct the pre-game ceremonies for Game 3.

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