I started writing this post in August, finished it a couple of times but never got around to publishing it. Today though, as I will attend my last live football game of the season, I figure I should share it.
The Canadian professional football season is almost over. Today the conference finals, next Sunday the Grey Cup. As I am in Toronto, I got tickets to the game.
(The preceding paragraph was written earlier this week. Today I am not in Toronto, which means I am not going to the game. I gave my tickets away. The person I was going to the game with can’t go – the government imposed a retroactive quarantine order on them. I won’t get into the logic of that today. Maybe never, given that there is none. Now back to the scheduled post.)
Last year there was no season, canceled by the pandemic. This year there have been people in the stands. It felt so strange at first.
There weren’t capacity crowds, given pandemic restrictions, but enough people to make a noise. A pretty big noise, all things considered.
If you’ve only watched the American version of football, I should point out that Canadian football is, in my opinion, much more entertaining. A wider field, an extra player and one down less makes for a more wide-open game.
Of course it isn’t much fun if your team isn’t winning. And seems to have little chance of doing so. My homeown Ottawa RedBlacks were the worst in the league in 2019.
Still, they won their first game this season – which wasn’t enough to move the team out of last place in the league rankings. The team has so little respect that they were still ranked in last place after week two, behind a team that had lost both its games.
Turns out that those doing the ranking knew more than the fans. The team managed three wins – and eleven losses in 2021. That early season hope gave way quickly to fan despair.
Which may explain why the stadium never seemed full, even when COVID restrictions were eased. Why would any fan pay to see the teamm lose in person when you can stay home and watch for free on television?
Still, if I was in town I went to the game. A season lost thanks to the pandemic reminded me how much I enjoy live sports. Which explains why today I will be in Toronto watching the confernece final in person. I’m not sure yet if I will be cheering for the hometown Argonauts or the visiting Tiger Cats.
I’m not empotionally invested in either team. What I am most interested in at this point is the weather. Wacthing a game outdoors in December can be rather cold.
As the season progressed it became apparent that if I went to the games hoping for a win, I probably would leave unhappy. Instead I decided to just enjoy the game and not fixate on the outcome. It made the season more bearable.
What is it about professional sports that so many of us find so appealing? I’ve renewed my RedBlacks season tickets for 2022, even though I have no expectations of the team improving. I guess I am a glutton for punishment.
After all, I also support the Ottawa Senators in their quest to win the Stanley Cup, which is ice hockey if you didn’t know. As I write this the Senators are, like the RedBlacks, last in the league. And I have tickets for a couple of games this month and another two in January.
My rationale is that sports teams were hard hit by the pandemic. They need my money just to stay afloat. Well, not just mine. They need lots of people to show support.
Mind you, an argument can be made that a team that doesn’t win doesn’t deserve support.
What it boils down to I guess is that I have been brainwashed. Is that possible?