Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Saskatchewan Roughriders" and "Ottawa Rough Riders"

2010 Grey Cup FestivitiesImage by Sangudo via FlickrI honour of Saskatchewan's loss in the Grey Cup last week, I present an oldie but a goody: the CFL. The Canadian Football League represents Canada in a way that few other Canadian insitutions ever will: rather hokey, definitely small-potatoes, and yet somehow carrying on year after year and never quite fading away into oblivion. I don't think that's praise exactly for the CFL, but it's if nothing else a fond recognition that, like the trains that used to run across this country, some Canadian traditions carry on long after people stop realising they're there...

I jest, mildly. For years, one of the best-known things about the CFL, particularly during its ill-fated jorney Down South, was the fact that in a league with only nine or so teams, two had almost exactly the same name. And a name that was/is, let's be honest, more than a little silly. Yes, I know, the two names were not exactly the same. Ottawa had - wate for it - a space between the 'rough' and the 'riders'. Saskatchewan didn't. Wikipedia tells me it's got to do with the fact that the two teams were for many years part of different conferences, which functioned almost like different leagues. Wikipedia also states that "the Ottawa team was named for the log rollers of the region's rivers while the Roughriders were named for an elite North-West Mounted Police corps of expert horsemen." None of which makes it any less silly.

Anyway, it's all in the past as the Ottawa team folded in 1996. In the intervening 14 years, Ottawa has managed to get, and then lose, a second team and is about to get a third. Perhaps they'll call themselves the "Argo Nauts".
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