I watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders play the BC Lions in BC Place. Tickets cost me $90. The Riders came in with a 3-2 record and tied for 1st place in the west. The Lions, for reasons unexplained, came in with a 1-4 record, last in the west. The Riders have a history of playing well in BC Place. BC, despite its record, remains a dangerous team, I just figured the Riders were more dangerous(ier).
We sat in section 410, upper deck and were surrounded by Roughrider fans. To my right was Sandra, my date for the evening, and a Cuban beauty who was watching her first CFL Football game ever. Interestingly, the Roughriders are named after Teddy Roosevelt’s Cavalry ‘Roughriders’ who fought the Spanish in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century. To my left, two Americans, a husband and wife from Indiana who were also watching their first CFL game, live. The husband had seen it before on television and quite liked it. I explained some of the rule differences and pointed out some of the things to watch for.
They thoroughly enjoyed the punt returns, especially the fumbled punt return. In the US that would have been a fair catch. They loved the speed of the game, the unlimited motion, and the athleticism. They were familiar with some of the names on the field from their college careers. I asked them if they remembered Michael Bishop, who played for us last year. The husband said he knew Bishop very well — sat in the stands and watched Bishop lose his final college game to Purdue (the husband’s alma matter). We also had some great conversations about health care, Obama, and legal drinking ages along the border. Despite the outcome of the game, they emerged as Saskatchewan Roughrider fans… ‘Canada’s Team’. They also said they preferred the CFL game to the NFL game, because the NFL was ‘too damned slow’. I only wish the game could have been a real barnburner, as in past Lions/Riders clashes.
As for Sandra, she had a hard time understanding what was going on. It wasn’t until after the game, when we were having a drink at a bar on Robson Street that she commented that at least she now understood what was going on in the highlights on TV. It might have been better for her to watch her first game on TV rather than from the stands. Better picture, analysis, and instant replay. Again, it probably would have helped if the game was less of a stinker.
And now, for my thoughts on the Roughriders so far this year. The game was a perfect example of how the whole CFL season is going. Left is right, upside down is sideways, and nothing makes any sense. The Riders are 3-3, tied for first in the west (as of this moment), and could easily be 5-1. They also could easily be 2-4. Inconsistent quarterbacking, running, blocking, special teams, defense, and play calling have me scratching my head. Are we a team on the rise, with a young QB who just needs time? Or are we on a downward spiral, and fortunately everyone else in the league, except Montreal is in the same boat? After six games, nobody seems to know what kind of team we have.
One thing is certain. We are a dangerous team, both to the opposition, and to ourselves.