A big weekend in sportsball

It’s Grey Cup weekend, sportsball fans, and you know what that means — snacks! Everyone who snacks knows that the best ones are always available at the biggest games, namely the Grey Cup and then the Super Bowl.

In between those two big events are the Christmas holidays, where snacks are also at a premium. But nowhere will you find snacks of a quality that are spread out for the sportsball fan at the various Grey Cup and Super Bowl parties.

Now etiquette requires that if attending a sportsball party, you should know something of the game itself, so that you can cheer when appropriate and boo at other times.

Yelling “Go sports!” is not considered enough I’ve been told.

So I present to you the sum total of my knowledge of the coming big event this weekend. It will be played on Sunday, November 25 at 4 p.m. Mountain Time. In Edmonton.

The game will be played between the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Redblacks (we’ll get to the ridiculousness of that name in a moment).

Calgary played in last year’s Grey Cup, a game I remember well because there was a particular hot dip that was excellent.

But Calgary lost that game — to the Toronto Argonauts — and will certainly be looking to win this year.

The Stampeders were founded in 1945 and have won seven Grey Cups, most recently in 2014. Stampeders is a fine name for a sportsball club. First of all, it evokes the city in which it plays. The Calgary Stampede is known far and wide and of course the local team should take that name. Secondly, it evokes a certain indication of action. This team will stampede you on its way to victory!

Names for sportsball teams are much in the consciousness these days, as there are many team names that ‘woke’ folk find objectionable. The Washington ‘Redskins’ name has certainly come under scrutiny, and its continued use has been controversial.

Just this week the Cleveland Indians introduced a new jersey, that for the first time in the club’s 70 year history, will no longer carry the controversial logo of Chief Wahoo. The name will remain but the logo, which was considered insensitive and racist by many, will be retired.

The Canadian Football League has many good names. I’ve always thought the Argonauts was a great name. It harkens back to Jason’s band of heroes in Greek mythology, subtly implying that not only are these players tough, they read the classics too.

Blue Bombers? Good name. Blue uniform and the implied force of bombers. Tiger Cats. Tough, ferocious. Good name.

Lions? Also big scary cats.

Roughriders? Great name. Although I always wondered how a league with so few teams could end up with two teams named Rough Riders.

For you see, before there were Ottawa Redblacks, there were Ottawa Rough Riders. That illustrious team was founded in 1876 and played until the franchise folded in 1996. Then in 2002 a new team, the Ottawa Renegades, was formed. But it only lasted until 2005. And finally in 2014, the current Redblacks entered the league.

And the enduring question came with them — what kind of a name is Redblacks? What does it even mean? What’s a Redblack, aside from a colour mashup? What does it evoke besides colour blocking?

So it turns out that those who formed the Redblack franchise wanted to use the name Rough Riders. It had history. It had weight. But, there was an objection from the west, namely Saskatchewan. They were the Roughriders, and thank you very much, would remain the only Roughriders in the league. But this begs the question, what came first, the Rough Riders or the Roughriders? Since the Saskatchewan team was only named the Roughriders in 1924, in fact it would appear that Ottawa had dibs on the name.

But this is Canada and politeness prevails. So therefore, Ottawa bowed to Saskatchewan’s objection and withdrew the Rough Rider request.

The fact that the name Redblacks was arrived at via a focus group tells you everything you need to know. The group pondered other names. The Raftsmen. Weak sauce. The Rush. Not bad, Rush is a great band. The Voyageurs. Not great but at least a voyageur is a thing. And the Nationals. I mean this seems like a natural doesn’t it? Ottawa is the national capital. Its hockey team is the Senators. But no, the focus group decided Redblacks was just the thing. I have only one word for that focus group. Idiots.

Thus, I have a prediction for the Grey Cup. On name alone, the Stampeders win.

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