I received a phone call the other day from a regular reader of this column asking for my humble opinion regarding the Saskatchewan Roughriders latest poor outing. Well, George, I’ll tell you what I think in that regard. In a word or two…it stunk! Really stunk!
I wouldn’t normally use up this whole space to whine about a sports team…but since you asked…I’m gonna let loose.
I was reminded of the owner/general manager, Joe McGrath, of the Charlestown Chiefs in the 1977 movie Slap Shot shouting out between periods that, “ WE’RE LOSING!!! THEY’RE BURYING US ALIVE OUT THERE!!” in reference to the team’s listless performance in a playoff game after the Chiefs had been winning a lot of games. Any ‘Rider fan could have been shouting out those same words during either of the last two games that the ‘Riders have played, or not played, as it were.
Being outscored 82-8 in two games is beyond embarrassing. Coach Ken Miller defended his team after their loss to the B.C. Lions at home on the 24th of September saying, “We weren’t playing well collectively and I don’t know the reason for that. In the final plays of the game we played with tremendous effort offensively and defensively and we’re not playing like a team that is flat. For some reason, we’re unsynchronized and not playing well together. That’s the thing I have to get figured out. They played with tremendous effort.’’
How does that old saying go, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, or something like that. Okay, Ken, we’ll buy the old “there was tremendous effort but it just didn’t work out this time” for the B.C. game but not that stinker that they listlessly waded through in Calgary on the 1st of October. Generally speaking, there was no discernable effort there that I could see. Sure, some guys were trying but the team as a whole definitely looked flat in this one.
Especially at this time of year, I am reminded of the by-gone days of pick up full-tackle football games that a bunch of us Kipling guys would play in the “Little School Yard”. Any one of us would have given up anything, well almost anything, to have been privileged enough to have taken our football talents to a professional level. These professional athletes have to be aware that there is a degree of obligation to the fan base for them to put forth their best effort. Every game.
Everyone has their good days and their bad days but these guys are playing a game for a living. A game! And it’s a pretty good living at that. According to my sources the average salary for a CFL football player is $100,000.00. Some make a lot more some make less but 100K is the average. Who wouldn’t want to play a game for a hundred grand a year? And on top of that they only play about twenty-one to twenty-four games a year including exhibition games and playoffs. If they make it into the playoffs, that is.
Yes, I also know that their professional football careers aren’t very long on average but still, during their playing careers the season only lasts six months and, while I will admit that they do have to spend some of their off-season time in training, basically they’re working for half a year. Could you do that at your job? Me either.
I don’t think that we loyal followers of the Green Machine, wonky as it is, are out of line at all by demanding some effort here. Wins and losses will come and go and realistically the ‘Riders can’t win it all every year, as much as we want them to, but at least put in an effort to justify the salaries and give us some incentive to continue to put 32,000 fans into the old Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.
So again, George, that’s my humble opinion on that topic. Thank you for the compliments and for giving me a subject to write about this week. It was also cathartic for me to vent my frustration in regards to our team. Thanks again, I needed that.
“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.”-Peter McWilliams (1949-2000).