No doubt, there’s going to be a fierce debate over the name of the new CFL franchise in Ottawa. Those in favour of adopting a completely new name will doubtless point out that the old names of ‘Rough Riders’ or ‘Renegades’ carry too much negative baggage with them. Furthermore, it would be silly to have two teams with the same name, in a 9-team league.
Well, this is an argument in favour of keeping the old name ‘Rough Riders’.
Apart from the historical significance of the name (more on that in a moment), is there any other professional sports franchise, anywhere, in any league of any sport, who can say they’ve had as rough a time of it as the Ottawa football franchise has? The name ‘Rough Riders’ would seem to fit this franchise to a tee.
Would it be quirky, having two teams with the same name? Absolutely! But rather than be embarrassed by this anomaly, CFL fans ought to embrace this quirkiness as being distinctly CFL. Hell, having two teams with the same name would be no quirkier than awarding a single point for a missed field goal attempt. It’s the oddities of the Canadian brand of football that keep it, well, Canadian. The more we try to emulate the NFL brand of football, the poorer we will inevitably look by comparison. I say, let’s celebrate the uniqueness of the CFL!
On the subject of rivalries, I think we can all agree that the more you have, the more exciting the game becomes. Despite being in two different divisions, there was always a natural rivalry between the Rough Riders and the Roughriders that simply never materialized between the Roughriders and the Renegades. Who can forget Russ Jackson leading his Rough Riders to victory over the upstart Roughriders, led by former Rough Rider (and current Roughrider) Ron Lancaster, back in ’69? (okay, so it was before my time, but that merely proves my point – the game was a classic.) Why would anyone willingly neuter such a great rivalry?
Which brings us to history and tradition. A lot of people will criticize the CFL for being ‘bush league’, but I wonder how many of these people realize that the CFL has a longer, more storied tradition than the more celebrated NFL? Rather than sweep the past under some rug, the league should be promoting its history. At the time the Rough Riders folded in ’96, they were the oldest professional sports franchise in the world. Think about that. It sort of puts the lie to the notion that the CFL is in any way ‘bush’, doesn’t it?
As to the argument that the fans wouldn’t support a team with the old moniker, I wonder how many fans have opted not to support the Senators for the flimsy reason that their team name was ‘ancient’ or somehow ‘archaic’. Not very many, I’m guessing.
So let the debates begin! I for one, firmly plant my flag on the side of ‘Rough Riders’!
And PS. The North Side still s*cks.