Saskatchewan has quickly become a province that promotes pride — Rider pride, that is. We should celebrate this.
We were previously a province bound by long cold winters and summers that leave as fast as they arrive. Now we are a province bound by a football team that oozes its way into more households every year than I’d like to admit. And that’s okay.
Even my roommate — also known as my mother — gets all of her middle-aged lady friends together to watch Rider games. Few of them have actual jerseys, but instead wear fashionable green sweaters. The food is green-themed, the earrings contain little footballs and the cheering can be heard from miles away.
My point being, Rider pride can be celebrated in a variety of ways, and has evidently reached a large and inclusive demographic of people.
That being said, many are critical of our Rider Nation. Some can’t stand watching sports on television while others don’t like the macho culture that they believe Rider pride perpetuates. In other cases, the Canadian Football League is seen as lacking in comparison to other national or international sports organizations.
During an in-class conversation, one of my peers said how sad it was that our province gains its identity from a football team. While numerous members of the class bit off her head for such a comment — and perhaps rightly so — I see validity in the point this individual was attempting to make. After all, this student wasn’t lying; the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a part of your identity if you live in this province.
Whether we’ve individually bought into it or not, Rider pride has taken over in many ways and it is a major source of our provincial identity.
No longer are we known for our cold winters. The classic plain white postcard with the caption, “Saskatchewan in the winter,” will slowly be phased out as our new postcards will contain images of Rider-crazy fans, lean football players and Mosaic Stadium. Our Saskatchewan-based small talk has moved beyond the weather into the area of sports. Exciting!
The phenomenon known as Rider pride has been shoved down our throats, splattered on our clothing and has taken over our media. The majority of the articles in the Star Phoenix during the last two weeks have covered the Riders. The green and white essence of this sport’s team has even bled its way onto our provincial licence plates.
If one agrees with the idea that Rider pride is an indicator — if not the sole indicator — of Saskatchewan identity, and sees such a marker of identity as a bad thing, I find myself asking why?
Isn’t it kind of awesome that our province’s community comes together over a common interest? It’s a pity such camaraderie isn’t extended to other areas of life, but the fact that we have Rider pride isn’t a bad thing.
While I wish Saskatchewan was as enthusiastic about its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, the arts or multiculturalism, I must begrudgingly admit that the Saskatchewan Roughriders do more good than harm in bringing together our province’s diverse communities.
Even if you hate football, commercialized sports or the Roughriders in general, try to see the positive side to this whole Rider pride thing. It’s about community building.
Hopefully in the future we can celebrate other parts of our Saskatchewanian identity, but in the mean time I vote we ride the wave of Rider pride and use this forward momentum and publicity to showcase others things we’re proud of.
Photo: Iwona Kellie