I drove across Canada once. Along the Trans Canada Highway, I stopped to refuel with gasoline and energy drinks in a rural Saskatchewan town. When I went to pay, I was told by the cashier that I better get home soon. She had no idea I was more than 2,500 kilometers away from there.
I must have looked as though she was speaking a foreign language. So, she tried to fill in the knowledge gap, “You know. For the game.”
Buzzed from the tiny vibrations you feel from driving for five straight hours, I still had no clue what she was talking about. She, somewhat frustrated at my obliviousness, mentioned that kickoff was in ten minutes. Then, it was like a light bulb went on over her head. Her countenance completely changed. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
I said I was just passing through, and she informed me that it was usually dead around this time because everyone was home watching the Roughriders play.
The Canadian Football League is barely an afterthought for me, but here was an entire community of people so interested in the outcome of their local team’s games, that the whole town seemingly stopped what it was doing to observe and cheer.
There’s this strange urge within many of us from Canada’s larger cities – where professional sports and alternative entertainment options are more abundant – to mock the CFL as something for those simple, salt of the earth types in the flyover provinces enjoy. It’s all very condescending and hints at a lack of self-awareness.
We all have simple pleasures and differing motivations for seeking out things that make us happy. For sports fans of any sort to project their preference as superior to another’s is ridiculous. It’s sports. Sports are as meaningful as you want to make it. There’s no easily understood reasoning for why we care about it, and there’s no way of explaining why one thing within sports should be more appealing than another. So, congratulations if your preference for the NFL doesn’t allow you time to keep up with the CFL. That’s great for you. It’s great for me, too.
However, for a whole bunch of people in Saskatchewan tonight, the CFL is very meaningful. The 101st Grey Cup is being held in Regina, Saskatchewan, between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the same Saskatchewan Roughriders who prompt their supporters in rural towns across the province to stay in, and not frequent little gas stations just off the highway. I hope nothing but the best for them.