Thursday, September 6, 2007
Taking one on the chin-but there's still some awesomeness
If anyone reading this is a sports fan, then they know the "agony of defeat" can be pretty hard to digest, and especially hard to find something positive in the experience. This just happened to me last Sunday in Regina, Saskatchewan at the annual Labout Day weekend game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders (boooo!) and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (huzzah!). The nature of their rivalry is entirely too long to go into right now. Needless to say, the passion that their fans feel for their teams, especially on Labour Day, is unsurpassed anywhere else in sports. Oh I know there are great college and professional rivalries, many of them as good as the Rider/Bomber rivalry, but unless you actually sit in the stands of either the Labour day Classic in Regina(aka to Bomber fans as "green hell"), or the re-match one week later in Winnipeg (aka the "Banjo Bowl"-more on that later), then you can't really appreciate the undercurrent of awesomeness that you experience.
Oh sure, there are wild fans in the stands. Plenty of face and body paint (Blue or Green, whichever team you are loyal too), costumes, signs, endless digs at the opposition team, city, province and parentage (T-shirt spotted on a group of Bomber fans..."I could have been a Rider fan....but my parents weren't related"-hence the re-match being called the "Banjo Bowl"). There's plenty of beer, food, loud music, bravado, and sauciness to go around. pretty much like many other sports events.
What makes this rivalry a little different these days, however, is the core of respect that the fans, for the most part, show to each other. Even though my team lost, and I had to endure a hot, stuffy, and boisterous bus ride away from the stadium, being the only person wearing the big blue "W" on his chest, no-one harassed me. Oh sure, there was plenty of drunken singing ("let's paint the world green, do ya know what I mean"...try listening to THAT for 45 minutes), hooting, dancing and assorted carryings-on, but not one Rider fan felt they had license to mock or insult me (let alone take a punch or tip and burn a car). I actually had a number of them comisserating over the close loss (in the last 6 seconds of the game...*sniff*), and admiring the fact that I was willing to stand up for my team win or lose.
So here's the Rider and Bomber fans who still haven't forgotten that you can love your team, and not need to tear down the other guy. That at the end of the day, the game is just a game, and that being a fan doesn't need to involve property damage. The true spirit of being a sports fan is... better than awesome
But we're still going to whup some Rider butt next week.