- wading through the sea of green outside the stadium before the game, selling souvenirs. What a mass of happy people!
- entering the stadium and seeing almost nothing but green and white (the team's colours). Mostly green with a bit of white, but with some people wearing black shirts with Rider logos, too. There were a few pockets of fans supporting the Winnipeg BlueBombers, but not many.
- the feeling of belonging one has when being a part of a large group of 40-50 thousand people. I know it can be dangerous, but it also generates a type of euphoria, too.
- playing in a band at a football game. What fun. What memories from high school and from my few years with the UWO marching band.
- The flags, the watermelon hats (and bras!), the other amusing hats and signs. Sorry, no photos.
- Concession prices. I understand but I'm stunned every time.
- the noise! Wow! I'm taking earplugs to future games. An old friend called my cell phone during the game, but I couldn't have taken the call even if I'd heard the ring.
- Quality of play: I strongly suspect that any top-twenty NCAA team could beat any CFL team more often than not. It's hard to tell, though, because Canadian football is different: 3 downs, not four; wider and longer field, the backfield is always in motion; no yards rule; one point for a touchback, etc. Or maybe (I hope I am not ejected from the pep band for this) it's just that the two teams I watched on Sunday weren't very good that day.
- It may not seem possible, but it seems to me that last two minutes in Canadian football take longer to play than the last two minutes in either the NFL or the NBA. I think 3-down football, with its more frequent possession changes (and the resulting clock stoppages), contributes to this sense.
Living in Regina, Saskatchewan, reminds me in several ways of a very brief visit I once inadvertently made to Lincoln, Nebraska, on an autumn game day. In both places, everyone wears the team colours, especially on game day. In Lincoln, all we saw was red and white; in Regina, everyone was wearing green, mostly Roughriders shirts, hats, flags draped around them as capes, and other paraphernalia. In Lincoln, people were loud and boistrous, waving and honking their horns. Pretty much the same thing in Regina .... perhaps a bit more subdued (not much, though).
After the game, I changed out of my pep band uniform before Ms. Eclectic and I went out for dinner. I didn't think about it until we were in the restaurant, but I was wearing a pale blue shirt, and Ms. Eclectic was wearing a dark blue sweater over a pale blue shirt. Nearly everyone else in the restaurant was wearing Roughrider green shirts or jerseys; I'm sure some of them must have thought we were from Winnipeg (whose colours are dark blue and gold). I wonder if that contributed to the mediocre service we had.....
I'll have a chance to play during at least four more home games for the Roughriders this fall. And then the pep band regularly puts in an appearance at the Grey Cup (non-stop playing at different venues for several days, I'm told) no matter what teams are playing in it.
Update: In the comments, Steve asks about the ticket prices, so here are some further thoughts:
The games are all pretty much sold out. It looked to me the last time I checked as if the prices were much higher than I would have thought, but given that they sell out at those prices (people drive in from all over Saskatchewan to watch the games), maybe the prices aren't high enough! Next home game, if I get a chance, I'll ask some of the quasi scalpers what tickets are going for.
The stadium here in Regina isn't much smaller than SkyDome, and the population base is MUCH smaller. You'd think, then, the Argos should sell out in Trono, too. I guess the Argos don't sell out because they aren't very good. After all, one of the important determinants of the demand for tickets to sporting events is fans' expectations about whether the home team will win.
Also there is an immense sense of both belonging and stakeholdership (if that's a word) among the people in Saskatchewan. That must contribute immensely to their willingness to buy tickets, attend rallies, buy jerseys, etc.
No, the pep band doesn't pay for its tickets. But if all I wanted was to attend and watch the game, given where the pep band seats are (low in the endzone), maybe I should quit the band and try for a media pass instead. 8-)