Odd But Extraordinarily Passionate. . .And A Word About Santa
It was like one of those old-time Rocky Horror Picture Show gatherings, with no Riff Raff but with The Flame from Regina.
This was CFL commissioner Mark Cohon's town hall session today with about 150 CFL true believers at a downtown hotel designed to let the fans have their say. Believe me, CFL fans are a bit cultish, and proved that by showing up in the ballroom of the Fairmont Palliser in all manner of football booster garb, including the fellow who wears a green cape at Saskatchewan home games and shoots flames from the top of his head.
It was like a CFL Hallowe'en, with the colors of every CFL team represented as well as fans wearing the jerseys of the defunct Ottawa Renegades and the San Antonio Texans. One corpulent fellow wore a full official's uniform complete with orange flags and "NERD" across his back. Two Saskatchewan fans wore "Wheathead" on the nameplates of their jerseys with hats designed to look like wheat sheafs.
These people are all a little crazy, but passionate, oh my goodness. Any league would do well to have fans to care this much. When the question went out as to how many in the room had been to at least 10 Grey Cup games, half the arms in the room shot up. One 78-year-old woman was praised for having visited every CFL city this season.
"We don't care just about the home team," said one Calgary season ticket holder. "We're passionate about all the teams."
Cohon, dignified in an expensive suit, was the most popular guy in the room, although it was the Grey Cup itself that received a standing ovation as two Mounties carried it into the room. Clearly, the commish was speaking to the converted, and it was fascinating to hear that the concerns of the fans during the question-and-answer period were very, very different from those hurled at Cohon when he was grilled by the media earlier.
With the media, Cohon was asked repeatedly about rumours concerning the future of the Argonauts and speculation about the future of the import/non-import ratio.
The fans, however, had a very different list of priorities. They asked about quality of play, having more timeouts, the crossover format (most were in favour), concussions, a league doping policy, the potential rebirth of an all-star game and possibly staring the season earlier.
It was 50 minutes before anyone asked about the rumour suggesting David Braley might soon own both the B.C. Lions and the Argos.
Evasive and non-committal with the media, Cohon was smiling and relaxed with the fans, as if knowing he was among friends.
Now for a quick but important piece of business. . .
The Star's Santa Claus fund is again poised to make Christmas a little more special for 45,000 local kids, but we could still use your help. No donation is too big or too small. If you can pitch in, a lot of kids will have a brighter time this year.
For more information, the main Santa Fund page is here.