With all the celebrations and hoopla of Grey Cup, which culminated with the most incredible win by the home team ever, the province of Saskatchewan really has taken full ownership of the Riders as the province’s team, as opposed to some team based in Regina.
I think this has been the case for many year already, as for home games you hear of people driving in for every game from towns and cities all over the province, and some even driving in from Alberta (like Calgary, where the Green-and-White have always had a heavy presence) for every game.
It certainly helps too when there’s a team member from the home community, as in our case with CFL-award winner Brendan LaBatte sporting No. 57 on the offensive line.
I know sometimes I wonder about the “provincial” aspect of the team when many of the best players are from various points and colleges in the U.S. — but this is simply the reality of the CFL. We do have lots of Canadian talent on hand, like our Mr. LaBatte, but not enough to staff the whole roster, and so yes, we need the talent that comes north from the U.S.
Having Darian Durant and Kory Sheets come to us from the U.S. only adds to the collective talent pool that the Riders had and enjoyed this year, and properly so. If you think about it, is this not the spirit in which Canada itself, and Saskatchewan in particular, was established?
Only the First Nations people were original residents here; everyone else is here as the result of immigration, so it’s not really a stretch that the Riders are a combination of local/provincial players, like LaBatte and Getzlaf and Dressler (from just south of here in N.D.), along with players from outside the province and country.
And so the Riders are truly the province’s team, they belong to all of us. Regina benefits, of course, because there has to be a central location for the team to play and to host huge events like CFL games and the Grey Cup — but when you see accomplishments like LaBatte winning a CFL award, that brings the benefits home to the local community too.
Maybe this is part of why the whole province embraces the Green-and-White to the extent that the fan base puts every other team’s fan base to shame, because we’ve all converged on this province to live, love and work and do business here, and to enjoy ourselves while we’re at it (thus the love of football, and hockey, and curling, and fishing and hunting and everything else that people like to do in and out of doors).
This is a great province to live in, and there are side benefits too!