wandering exploring writing

The One About Cheerleaders…er, Football

He shoots…he scores! No…wait. We’re at the top of the ninth, the score is tied and the bases loaded. No, that’s still not right. Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Sigh. That’s not it either. Damnit.

I’ve been in Calgary, Alberta for the last four days. I wasn’t able to quickly and easily get an internet connection, so gave up and enjoyed not being ‘wired’ for a few days. That doesn’t stop me from writing, though…not me! Not the RambleMan!

This is a true story. My apologies for the boring bits, but well, get to know me and you’ll realize they’re par for the course. Another sports reference without evening trying! I stayed with Joan, a college buddy, while in Calgary. During my stay she flexed her super power networking muscles and managed to get us free tickets to a football game – Calgary Stampeders vs. Toronto Argonauts. Without knowing anything about either team, I’m voting against the Argos simply because I had a shitty experience at the Toronto airport on my way East to visit the parents. In all likelihood the football team had nothing to do with the constant construction and horrid organization and layout of the place, but I believe in guilt by association when it’s convenient for me to use, so the Argos must burn in hell.

Oh! The free tix also came with free beer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and a “smokies” – big honkin’ hot dogs. Have you noticed that I haven’t oozed about my excitement for the game (it’s tonight as I write this)? Have you noticed my lack of guy-esque rough & tumble excitement for the impending game? The best way to summarize my knowledge of and exposure was nicely summarized by Joan when I reminded her she would have to teach me the rules of the game by saying to me, “you’re such a girl”. I’m sure she meant it in the most manly way possible.

Remember that I grew up in a small, isolated Arctic town. Football doesn’t exist up there in any form. Hockey exists in recreational form – mainly for kids and in our very short, but always-sunny summers, softball leagues come to life. I’ve never really had exposure to the “big” sports and so (this is my defense) I know little about them and certainly don’t have favorite teams (which seems to be a necessity if you’re a man of any sort).

I did my college/university thang here in Calgary, so made a point of attending a few hockey games – I decided the Calgary Flames were my favourite team because I probably would’ve had the shit beat out of me if I hadn’t. I’ve attended a few other live sports since then and have realized that while I didn’t grow up watching sports on television, I love ALL sports live. Okay, probably not Golf, unless they serve beer and let me play on the golf carts. I think miniature golf would probably be more entertaining to watch what with the colourful windmills and other interesting hazards.

So…this entry will be the first that I write in two parts. Usually I sit down, bang out a ramble and post it without proof-reading/editing it to ensure I don’t sound like a total moron. I figure you’re getting the real Charles through these entries…why improve on perfection? Shuddup!

I’m going to finish this entry after the game tonight. Right now I’m all academic and interesting in the game in an intellectual way…understanding it, watching for the thinking that goes into it and the plan being exercised. I’m sure it’ll probably turn out like hockey where, as long as you’re whooping and hollering at appropriate times and can spot the puck when everybody stands up and makes an unhappy, disapproving tone, you’re set. See ya later tonight…but of course this won’t be posted until I get home on Saturday night and get online again.

Alright! It’s the next day. What a great experience last night. Sure, there were drunk people in front of us having loud conversations about how they were too far from the action on the field to see what was going on, but they could see better than the referee dudes when it came to disputing a call against our home team. There were also cheerleaders there. Real, live cheerleaders. This is a first for me as well (I’ve been very sheltered). First, I was disappointed that they didn’t do cheerleading like you see on TSN/ESPN with jumps and pyramids and such. After my disappointment subsided, I noticed that they were doing a damn good job of shimmying and shaking to whatever music was blaring over the stadium’s sound system. There were two sets of cheerleaders – one on either side of the stadium who moved up and down the side depending on the quarter of the game we were in. They also were on the field during half time to lead some junior cheerleader-type girls in their choreographed thing.

Right…there was a football game going on as well. At this point I can confidently say that I understand the rules of football – or Canadian football, anyway. Joan took the time to explain what “downs”, “yards” and “possession” mean. It’s really quite simple. Before this game I understood that each team was frantically trying to get “the ball” from one end to the other while the opposing team did everything in their power to stop them. What I didn’t understand was how they decided who got the ball and when their turn was over. Did I mention there were cheerleaders there too?

It was a good game – the Calgary Stampeders stomped the Toronto Argonauts 31 to 11. The stamps were great…and Toronto really did suck. The crowd was wonderful with Joan seemingly friends with about a quarter of the stadium of 30,000 people. Every time she turned around someone else was waving at her or coming up and saying hello. It was quite frightening in a cosmic-connection kind of way that these people would all end up going to the same football game and end up sitting in the same section…without pre-arranging it. I just think that Joan knows everybody in Calgary…that’s easier to rationalize than the probabilities she’d run into these people. Damn…the lottery draw for tonight is something like $17.5 Million dollars…I’ll have to get her to buy a ticket for me!

We didn’t cash in our free tickets for smokies and suds because of the trek out of the ozone-layer height of our seats all the way to the long line up for the food. I was too focused on watching the game and Joan of course had set up a living room for all of her friends to visit by this point.

In the end, we left with 9 minutes remaining in the game…which of course lasted another 20 minutes or so. It was clear that Calgary was going to win and we didn’t want to get caught up in the mass exodus of over-excited and intoxicated fans. You have to remember as well that the population of my town is about 18,000 people and that there were about 30,000 people at this game. Whoa fuck. The logistics of traffic flow in and out of this stadium make my brain melt. They did host the Olympics in 1988, though, so they must know what they’re doing.

Once in the car and on the drive home we turned on the radio to hear the end of the game. I didn’t understand any of that part because they were actually telling us WHO had the ball and what they were doing with it…like, their names! All I knew was that I was rooting for the guys in red…who gives a shit what their NAMES are! The radio also didn’t mention the cheerleaders at all…boy, have they got their priorities screwed up. I imagine myself doing the commentary. The red guys have the ball and are going in the right direction. Oh! The white guys stopped them. There they go again. The cheerleaders are doing a shimmy dance to My Sharona. There are a dozen of them dancing in unison on either side of the field. Their names are…oh, who are we kidding – who cares what their names are. Something must have happened on the field because the cheerleaders are jumping up and down…look at them jump up and down. Go Stamps!!

Other parts of the game that were memorable is that whenever the Stampeders got a touch down the sidelines helper people would throw/slingshot little foam footballs into the crowd. None came my way, unfortunately. Also, with every touchdown a blonde woman in a silver top wearing a white cowboy hat, carrying a red & white Stampeders flag would ride a white horse from one end of the field to the other at top speed. Then, after they got their one point kicking bonus thing, she’d zoom back the other way. The Stampeders emblem is a white horse…and this is cowboy country.

There was also a guy dressed in football duds with a dog head on him who, I imagine was their mascot. Joan claimed his name was Harvey the Hound. I choose to call him Darryl the Dog and in the end we found out neither of us was right – his name was Maurice, or something. Darryl would lead us in cheers and managed to get the wave going round and around and around the stadium for a few times. I was part of a wave! The cheerleaders were too! You could say that I shared a moment with them.

In summary, if you have a chance to go to a football game, go. If it’s free, like my first experience was, all the better. Choose your seats based on where the cheerleader do their dances. You won’t be disappointed. Touchdown! (finally, I remember the football phrase!)

Go Stamps, Go


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