Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A Nation shamed!

There are many good qualities about the fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the much vaunted Rider Nation. However, in one pointless act of immaturity, stupidity and wanton disregard for one’s privacy the Rider Nation today isn’t quite as boastful a lot. After Sunday’s shocking loss to the BC Lions in Vancouver, some intelligence challenged idiots decided to toss eggs at kicker Paul McCallum’s house, make threatening phone calls to his family and in a supreme example of moronic behaviour dump manure on his lawn (only to pick the wrong lawn in their haste to show their class). Needless to say the behaviour of the idiots has gained far more mileage than all of the good deeds of Rider fans over the years. And that is a shame, for the Rider Nation normally stands for what is great about Canadian Football.

Stories of the love between Rider fan and their team are legendary, in days of yore it was said that farmers paid for their tickets with bushels of wheat legend or fact it tells the tale of affection between team and resident. The province responds year after year with fundraising events across the prairie bingos, 50/50’s, dinners and dances all send money to the Riders to retire debts, improve the team and share in the joy of Canadian football.

Rider fans can be found in every province, usually the most colourful, the loudest and generally the most fun. Somehow after Sunday night’s little bout of stupidity one senses the green shirts, pom poms and wigs have gone deep into the closet.

The Riders have responded with understandable disgust at the treatment of McCallum’s family by a small and obviously moronic bunch. McCallum’s off-season employer Sask Energy is putting together a card for the McCallum’s to show that not all Saskatchewanians have their brains locked in stupid mode. Rider management has vowed to not let the matter rest until the offenders have been punished.

The Rider Nation can take a bit of solace that more than likely the group that caused the trouble on Sunday most likely aren’t much in the way of football fans anyways. But for now they will have to take their collective lumps. No doubt most understand that it really is only a game, their team had a rather remarkable season, taking them close to the Great Canadian prize. They came up short get ready for next year!

Regina police have arrested the moron that threatened McCallum’s family, who apparently a man of no class or courage, threatened to burn the house down with McCallum’s family inside. For him if and when found guilty, time in jail will not doubt do wonders for his disposition. Providing him with ample time to reflect on how just how moronic he really was on Sunday. Threatening to kill someone is a very serious charge; sending fear into anyone’s home is something that must be addressed with the full punishment of the law applied.

For the egg throwers and manure dumpers vandalism regulations should be followed to their maximum as well. Community service and a full heart felt apology to the McCallum’s should also be provided without delay (cleaning up the property would be a nice start!).

For the Rider Nation what is needed is a thorough examination of the extent of fanaticism in their group. The Nation has brought a lot of joy to the CFL over the years, fighting against the odds to succeed, living and dying with their team through thick and thin. They obviously would have neither truck nor trade with the likes of the idiots of Sunday night, but they do have to guard against that kind of mind set among their own.

It’s unfortunate that the behaviour of a miniscule number has tarnished the reputation of a majority of great football fans. Perhaps the Rider Nation will take time to reassure the McCallum’s that while disappointed in the loss they hold neither malice nor responsibility to the man or his family. The beauty of Saskatchewan has always been its ability to pull together in times of struggle. For the Rider Nation it’s time to start pulling!

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