Monday, May 25, 2020

Everything's Changed

This last weekend should have been Green & White Fan Day in Saskatoon.  CFL Training Camps should have gotten underway across Canada.  We should have daily updates and giddy anticipation for the upcoming season and games.

Except that's not the case is it.

I started working from home on March 17th.  I had no idea how to teach piano lessons via Skype.  In the course of 24 hours the music academy moved nearly 600 students to virtual music lessons.  I quickly learned how to deal with it all.  It seems that in the "new" world we are forced to adapt and adapt quickly to be able to continue in our work and businesses.

How does the CFL adapt?

Everything has been in a holding pattern.  So much is up in the air.  There's no way to know what's going to happen.  At first it seemed like the CFL was just going to wait and see what was going to happen.  Then it became clear that camps couldn't open because not only are we not able to gather in large numbers but with the Canada/US border closed to travel, players are wherever they call home.  Being stuck at home certainly isn't hard but it is frustrating when you thought you were on a certain path and want to get your plans underway.

Normally this week is my busiest week as a piano teacher.  It would normally be our huge music festival.  I equate it to the Grey Cup of music festivals.  Everything my students have worked for the last 5 months would pay off during this week.  Except it's been postponed.  Likewise, we found out last week that the CFL season is also postponed and *if* things play out the way we want the best case scenario is the season gets under way at Labour Day.  Don't we always say the real season begins on Labour Day anyway?!  Because of this, the season may only be 8 games long and there's the likelihood that the Grey Cup will be pushed back to December.  

Oh and Regina/Saskatchewan was supposed to host the 2020 Grey Cup.  That's been cancelled too.  It's been written that Roughrider fans aren't upset.  What choice do we really have?  I myself have high anxiety about just getting prepared to go grocery shopping.  I find it very hard to picture myself with 30,000 people in a few short months.  The protocols that would have to be in place are mind boggling.  I mean wearing masks are one thing but how do we physically distance?  How do we have handwashing?  Do we market Rider hand sanitizer next?  If it takes waiting in line at the Co-Op for 15 minutes to get inside...what does it look like for people to gain entry to a football stadium?

Then again maybe in a year all of this is just a faint memory.  Maybe we will laugh about it like Y2K.

Yes, I know that's doubtful.

The trouble is that while being a CFL fan is what unites us, we also have to face facts that this is about much more than football.  It's about players, coaching staffs, their families, the people who work concessions, the people who work security, the volunteers, tourism, restaurants, hotels... I could go on and on. It's a tough concept to think about.  A CFL season or no CFL season - the effects are felt far beyond the game day.  We just don't know enough at this point.  We don't know enough to decide whether we can even have a season or even if the league can survive 2020.  What we do know is that after the Spanish Flu ran it's course, life did resume.  I stay hopeful that the same will be said when 2020 is all said and done.

Some great things have emerged to help us during this time.  If you are on Twitter then you definitely need to follow Dan Clark.  Everyday or regularly he posts a "would you rather" and it's nearly mandatory that you respond with gifs.  Charleston Hughes is either building flower beds or meals.  The pictures are phenomenal. The Rod Pedersen show has been ticking along happily all during this time on Facebook Live.  Today he had on Randy Ambrosie and it was a great interview!  The CFL has from time to time posted and encouraged fans to show their loyalty via photos using the hashtage #HowICFL.  If Twitter isn't your thing then try following your favourite players on Instagram.  I love to see Cody Fajardo's posts and his cute doggie.  Love seeing who Isaac Harker is throwing footballs at next (spoiler it's usually his brother).  Facebook might be more your thing and you know that even though the news is few and far between fan groups like mine (ABC Rider Fans) are still active.  Not all the posts are football related anymore but it does certainly give us that sense of being together in the same community while being apart.

Thank you for the friendships running this blog has afforded me.  Thank you for all the social media interactions.  I hope to see you all again soon.

Go Riders.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Home Field Advantage

How many days has it been now since sports was cancelled?  I honestly can't remember.  It seemed so crazy at the time when the NBA season was cancelled and shortly thereafter all major sports and events followed suite.  The CFL training camps have been postponed and we are waiting word as to what will happen to the season.  The city of Toronto has banned all events until July.  It feels surreal.  It feels like we are in some kind of apocalyptic movie.  We've all found a new way of life and we continue to adapt to all kinds of isolated situations.

A few months ago my biggest disappointment was that Roughrider training camp was moved back to Regina for 2020.  

A couple of years ago I had some minor health problems.  I had two breast MRI's that year.  I won't go into details but they aren't very comfortable and if you've ever had an MRI you'll know that you cannot move while in the chamber.  What got me through was the constant visual in my head that when it was all over I'd get to hang out at training camp in Saskatoon at Griffith Stadium.  

My husband had to travel to Toronto for eye surgery.  It was a two week trip.  At the beginning of it we attended a Roughriders versus Argonauts game at BMO Field.  While the game was prior to the surgery it made the trip so much more endurable when we got to start it off that way.  We engaged with fans and Torontonians and it made our hearts full.

I've seen on ABC Rider Fans (not a plug - just my experience) posts from members saying 'thank you for this group because it's helped me through cancer treatment'.  Most recently a member said thank you for continuing to bring fans together when I posted the weekly Sunday Funday post which I actually had hesitated in doing for a few weeks.  I mean - we all know what we are doing on Sunday now, right.  

Football gets us through a lot of things in life.  We form groups and communities.  We wear our Roughriders and CFL colours everywhere we travel.  We share, rejoice and commiserate.  What are we left to do when our event isn't there anymore.

We adapt.  

No the CFL news articles aren't there for us to banter over anymore but teams are finding new ways to reach out.  There's colouring books and activity books where families are encouraged to post and share their work.  Quarterbacks are challenging each other to online games.  Fans are going to remember which teams were there for them when it mattered most and fans will reciprocate with their loyalty. 

For myself you'd think a profession such as piano teacher would mean I am out of a job.  Not so.  In the course of 24 hours I went from in person lessons to teaching via Skype.  I retained nearly all of my students and I am so thankful that they are able to continue with me and I can share the music with them.  My husband works from his basement office.  We are blessed to still have jobs in a time when so many others won't.  

I may not have the football at the end of the covid tunnel but I know we will get through this too.  When football is ready for us - we will be ready for it.  

Won't it be glorious when Rider Nation can gather at Mosaic Stadium once again.  Just 30,000 of our closest friends...shoulder to shoulder...cowbell in hand.

I can almost hear the noise.

This is the time when home field advantage matters most. For now, STAY HOME.  We can beat this if we stay apart.  Stay apart so we can be together again soon.