Sunday, November 28, 2010 | Categories: Episodes
Edmonton has embraced this 98th Edition of the Grey Cup.
For the last three days the streets downtown have been filled with carousing CFL fans from every franchise, most sporting some version of their teams colours. Montreal fans roam the streets in massive fur coats, Stampeder fans in their trademark cowboy hats, and Eskimo fans in garish gold helmets.
Last night I saw an Argonaut fan in a Superman suit throwing a toy football with a B.C. fan wearing a Lion's mane.
Bomber fans from Winnipeg never seem to be far behind their touring cheerleaders, and the clarion call of Oskee wee wee, Oskee wa wa bounces off the downtown office buildings as Hamilton fans head to Tiger Town.
As enthusiastic as these crowds are though, they pale in comparison against the invading hordes of Saskatchewan fans in their face paint and green jerseys. They fill every bar, crowd every restaurant, and have sold out every hotel room in the city.
Their uber fan is a journeyman electrician by day, "the Flame" by night. Sandy Monteith wears Kabuki make-up, and a home made propane powered torch on his head, that shoots a flame a dozen feet in the air. Oddly enough, he fits right in.
More than 60 thousand people will brave the winter cold to crowd into Commonwealth Stadium to watch a rematch of last years finalists go at it again. Saskatchewan-Montreal. Riders- Allouettes. The face value of my nosebleed tickets are 189 dollars per seat.
The game's sold out.
An estimated 5 million Canadians will watch from home - Canada's biggest national party of the year.
This is the Grey Cup.
What is the secret of it's magic? Why is it so successful? We want to hear your thoughts ...and some of your Grey Cup stories. Do you have your own Grey Cup tradition?
There are other questions frequently asked of Canadian football. Does the sport have to work harder to compete in this hockey-mad nation? Are the comparisons with US football nowadays irelevant? How does a game with so many American players qualify as a distinctly Canadian passtime? And why aren't their teams in the Maritimes?
And then there are the big, big questions such as ...where do you stand on the outside-inside debate: is football better outside in the cold, the mud, the fog, or whatever the weather throws at you? And do hollowed out watermelons actually keep your head warm?
Our question: "What is the secret to the success of the Grey Cup?"
I'm David Gray ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
When I was growing up in Vancouver, as Air Cadets we were ushers at all the football games in Empire Stadium. I vividely recall the Grey Cup game either in '59, '60 or '61 when Saskatchewan was playing, it was the first time I had ever seen a half-naked man painted green before. Close to the end of the game, we were formed up along the sidelines with linked arms, a hundred or more 14 to 16-year-old Air Cadets. When the whistle went to end the game, the whole raft of people stampeded toward us as we were there to protect, I think, the field. Anyway, confronted with drunken green men running toward us, we broke ranks quickly, escaping with our lives.
Jim Van Horn
I think the Grey Cup is kind of bred into us. I remember Grey Cup parties from the time I was a little girl and it was always fun even though I didn't know what it was all about. As I grew up I enjoyed going to College football games, mostly for the party aspect.
Then I moved out west and eventually my young son started playing football, first as a 12 year old then in high school. His coaches made a real effort to eduacate the mothers about the game and as I grew to understand it I grew to love it.
I live in Calgary, but today I'm cheering for the green and white. They have the greatest fans on earth and are a big part of what makes the CFL great.
GO RIDER NATION!
The only Grey Cup game that I watched live was in 1976, when the Rough Riders beat the Roughriders at the CNE stadium. I wasn't actually IN the stadium. Being a poor college student at the time, I couldn't afford a ticket. But I may have had the best view that anyone had of the game.
With a couple of rolls of quarters, I went to the observation deck of the CN Tower, and fed the binoculars. I could actually count the stitches on the ball. When some people came along and realized what I was up to, I did let them have a look, which gave me a break to watch the big picture, which was almost like looking straight down at the game.
Unfortunately, it won't be possible to do that again, now that the games are played in the Dome, but once was enough for me.
I dare not watch the Grey Cup game. For Saskatchewan, so much is riding on it: people's happiness, productivity at work, etc. Every game I watched this year, the Riders lost. Every game I missed, they won. I'm a little annoyed at the cult of football in this province. It's become more than a game that we enjoy - it's become the only suitable topic of conversation, aside from the weather. When Dianne Warren and Allan Casey, both of SK, won the Governor General's Awards for fiction and non-fiction, respectively, no one paid any attention. I love the Canadian game, but it's just a game. Let's find some balance here!