My son and I are big CFL (Canadian Football League) fans. We make the long drive from our Montana home to Regina, SK for a game every summer, and listen to our beloved Roughriders on the web.
The Rider fans are amazing – they paint the town green for every home game. They yell and scream and guzzle Molson Canadian beer, and wear watermelons on their heads. It’s about as fun a football atmosphere as you could want (well, except for the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium). And the Canadian rules make for a fast and furious game of football (“He’s at the fifty! the fifty-five! and down at the 53-yard line!”)
But that’s not what this blog is aboot (Canadian for “about”), eh?
Whenever we attend a Canadian football game, or listen on the internet, I can’t help but notice that they always play O Canada, the Canadian national anthem, but then never play the Star Spangled Banner. Never. The same is true at a Canadian hockey game, baseball game, or any other public event. They never recognize the US.
By rule, 19 of the 42 players on any CFL team are from the United States. Obviously, there are not that many good Canadian native football players. The best players are all from the US, as are the coaches. Canadians love their football, but it is an American game. Still, there is never any recognition of the United States at any CFL game. No flag. No national anthem. Nothing. It’s all about Canada.
Now, I don’t have a problem with this. Really. It’s their country, it’s their league, they are very patriotic about it, and more power to them. The Canadian fans welcome my son and I as a curiosity, and frankly as “football experts from the States, eh?” Our celebrity status is very cool, just like that great Canadian beer.
What I don’t understand is this: last weekend my band played music for three nights at the fantastic rodeo weekend in Augusta, MT, and we enjoyed watching the rodeo on Sunday. In addition to the athletic prowess and the terrific Western atmosphere, there was a lot of pageantry and patriotism. As far as I know, there were no Canadian participants in the event. There may have been a couple of Canadian spectators. Still, the rodeo officials made a big deal of riding the Canadian maple leaf flag around the arena, and playing O Canada before our national anthem.
Even stranger than that, about HALF of the spectators stood there with hands over their hearts for the Canadian anthem! Like they were pledging allegiance to Canada!
Here in Lewistown we have local drag races on summer weekends. What a great American event! Vintage American Chevies and Fords, classic Beach Boys music – it just doesn’t get better. So why the heck do we have to listen to O Canada before our own precious Star Spangled Banner? I mean, I like Bachman Turner Overdrive as well as the next guy, but hey! This is American Drag Racing!
I don’t think the Canucks need to pay homage to the US at their events. But I also don’t think “O Canada” is required at ours.
Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side
American Woman, Stay Away from Me! – the Guess Who