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Get Off My Bandwagon

Published: Friday, Aug 5th 2016, 10:08am

​By Stephen Safinuk

I don’t know if it’s a sign that I’m getting older, and moving into that “get off my lawn” mentality, but I can’t even begin to express how much bandwagon fans piss me off. Before I delve into this, it is likely you can replace “Roughriders” with “Cavaliers” or “Penguins” and the following would more or less remain the same. This problem is not unique to Ridernation, but that doesn’t annoy me any less.

You see it across the board when teams win titles, and the Roughriders in 2007 (and 2013) were no different. The true meaning of bandwagon fan became very apparent to me in 2007 after the Roughriders beat Winnipeg 23-19 in the 97th Grey Cup in Toronto. People lined what is now known as ‘The Green Mile’ on Albert Street and partied well into the early hours of the morning, celebrating the first Grey Cup title in Saskatchewan in 18 years. What truly intrigued me was seeing a ‘friend’ in that celebration who mocked me months earlier for supporting the Riders for so long with so little success. For some strange reason, they were wearing a Rider jersey, and celebrating like they’d been fans since the dawn of time. It was suddenly cool to be a Rider fan again.

I understand that bandwagon fans are a huge part of a team’s bottom line, as they rush to the Rider store to buy the clothes they will act like they’ve been wearing for years (Hey buddy – you left the tag on that brand new shirt…just saying). Hell, some of those bandwagon fans have turned in to full-time supporters of the Green and White, and good on them. It will be interesting to see how many of those fans stick around long enough to see the rebuild that we are currently going through, take effect.

But my bone to pick is not with them. I don’t mind the fans that came on board to stay. My bone is with the fans who jump off the bandwagon at the first sign of adversity. We saw a bunch of it in 2011, only to see those ass-hats hop right back on for the 2013 cup win. I was curious when some of those bandwagon fans would start to bail again this time around.

Apparently 6 games into a full rebuild is the limit. After 2014, we were not “1 or 2 pieces” away from behind a contender. We were an aging team with good talent and a scary future. Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman knew they needed to win in 2015 if they wanted to keep their jobs. They mortgaged our future in hopes of instant success, and it failed. Oh boy did it fail. We signed aging veterans to contracts that we couldn’t afford in the future, while giving our rookies zero time on the field. We saw a defense that could only be described as porous take the field game in and game out for 18 games last season, instead of starting the rebuild that we all knew would have to come. We had fallen from contenders to after thoughts in a year.

The Riders haven’t really had a difficult period like the one we are currently in since the mid to late 90s when we would win 5 or 6 games annually, and 8 or 9 wins was considered a success. Hell – between 2002 and 2014 we only had 1 sub .500 season. We were in 4 Grey Cup games over that period, and won 2 of them. This is a time of success the Riders haven’t experienced since the days of Lancaster and Reed, and even then, they only walked away with 1 title. It’s really hard to complain about the bad times, when we are 3 years removed from a Grey Cup win at home.

I know the majority of my readers don’t need the quick history lesson that I provided above but again…this article really isn’t aimed at you. It’s aimed at the loud on offense, wave starting people who call themselves fans and then run at the first sign of real adversity. The fans that, after 6 games of a full rebuild are now calling for Chris Jones’ head (not happening) or blaming Darian Durant for our struggles (#DariansFault is back again). The fans who have tucked away their Rider jerseys and hats, and replaced them with Blue Jays swag, or Golden State Warriors paraphernalia. I saw several people on twitter this season already comment on an actual full on search for a new team. Get the *@*# out of here with that crap. You cannot call yourself a fan if you are willing to change allegiances. The term “fan” means fanatic. A person who is enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody (such as a band, a sports team, etc). The moment you threw on that jersey and celebrated the 2007/13 wins with the rest of us, you made a choice. You decided that the Saskatchewan Roughriders were the team you wanted to support. The best description I’ve heard lately is comparing being Sports fan is like getting married. You agree to support each other through thick and thin. The good times and the bad. For rich (in wins) or poor (in wins). Consider this true, without the possibility for divorce. And if you do decide to divorce (jump off the bandwagon) then you don’t get to remarry the same team later on. That’s just weird…

On a side note, the very term “bandwagon fan” annoys me because it’s an impossibility. You can’t be a “part time fanatic”. You are either in or you are out. Pick one.

Every time I see one of these “fans” about ready to jump ship and move on, I remember their name/twitter handle. I can’t wait for the moment that Chris Jones and company turn this ship around, and you try to hop back on the bandwagon. I may just make it my goal to make sure you feel the immense shame that you deserve for quitting on the team when they need you the most. If I even see you reach for that tucked away hat/jersey, I’m going to dropkick you in the genitals, twitter style. Once you’ve put those items away, you do it for good. You don’t get to be a fan when it suits you.

I might be alone in my next sentence, but I actually enjoy losing seasons. I never want to see them, but I enjoy them just as much as any other. It’s still a chance to go out 10-11 times a year (plus road games) and cheer and watch Rider football. You really can’t appreciate the feeling that comes with the team you choosing winning a championship, if you haven’t stuck through the pain of the bad times.

So in essence – be patient, Ridernation. Good times will return if you wait them out. Support this team through the bad times, and you’ll truly get to enjoy the good. Otherwise… GET THE **** off the bandwagon and good riddance to you.

Bring back (insert player name here) fans:

Now that I’ve shared some of my annoyance with you regarding bandwagon fans (and trust me, I could spout of all day on some of these people), it’s time to share another annoyance. The “bring back my favourite player” fans. We are 6 games into a full on rebuild that saw some of our favourite players get released/cut. We saw John Chick head to Hamilton, Ryan Smith and Weston Dressler head to Winnipeg, Tyron Brackenridge and Weldon Brown cut. Because of how God awful we were in 2015, we brought in a new regime that wanted to start with a clean slate. Chris Jones has NO allegiance to any single players from the 2015 Roughrider roster. His only job is to mould this team into a contender in whatever way he sees fit. When he was signed, Ridernation was ecstatic, but I don’t think many truly realized what was to come. We did not sign Chris Jones/John Murphy to tinker a little bit with the roster. We signed 2 of the best football minds in the CFL to completely rebuild this roster from the ground up. You can’t start a rebuild with aging veterans in positions like WR and DE. Especially highly paid International players. You need to cut bait and walk away from large contracts. It hurts to see players you have supported for so long move on, but it’s the nature of the business. I would love nothing more than to see some of these players finish out their careers in a Rider uniform, but the truth is we would be in no better position today if we had John Chick. We would still be 1-5 if we had Weston Dressler and Ryan Smith. But we would be 1 year behind on our rebuild, and 1 year farther away from being the contenders we all believe Jones/Murphy can make this team. So it comes down to a choice. Do you support the team, or do you support the players on the roster? Have patience and a little faith in the group that has forgotten more about football than most of us have known about it.
**side note : This does not mean you can’t still root for players like Foley/Dressler/Chick/Smith and wish them well**

 

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