Roughriders, Rider Nation open 2015 under the microscope

As the Saskatchewan Roughriders open the 2015 season, a University of Regina graduate student is studying the fans.

University of Regina PhD student studies Roughriders fans as season kicks off

A creative Roughrider fan channels rock band Kiss into his Rider pride. (Courtesy of Jeff May)

As the Saskatchewn Roughriders are set to kick off their 2015 season on Saturday, University of Regina student Katie Sveinson is setting her sights on an notorious part of Rider Nation: the 13th man.

A PhD kinesiology student, Sveinson is studying what makes Rider fans tick, whether it be melon heads, Pilsner cowboy hats or bumping into a green and white reveller on the other side of the world. 

"What I really like about Rider fans is that whenever they see somebody else in their jersey, you know, they'll give them a high-five or they'll say, 'Go Riders'" Sveinson said. "They really have this inclusive behaviour to people."

Saturday will be a great day for Sveinson to gather data, as the Riders open the season against the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It's the first time the prairie teams have met in an opener since 2005.

Quarterback Darian Durant is looking for a bit of revenge after last year's season-ending elbow injury. He was injured in September 2014 by Winnipeg defensive lineman Bryant Turner.

University of Regina student Katie Sveinson poses for a photo at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin for a Green Bay Packers game. (Photo courtesy Katie Sveinson)

As for Sveinson, she'll be on the lookout for behaviour that she wouldn't normally find outside of a sports venue.

"There's something about the sporting context — about being in that stadium and being in that environment that really allows them to act in ways that we wouldn't really see them act in day-to-day basis just in society," she said.

A self-proclaimed Green Bay Packers loyalist, Sveinson started her research by looking at how female sports fans can be excluded. 

"When I was working on my master's thesis, I wanted to explore if female fans experienced feelings of marginalization or empowerment," said Sveinson, whose findings were published in Leisure Studies, an academic journal. "So I started with a small study on female Rider fans. I found that the Rider community is an inclusive one."

The Riders and Blue Bombers kickoff at 6 p.m. CST at Mosaic Stadium.


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