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Sports Editorial

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More than just a football game

THERE ARE TWO THINGS IN LIFE THAT I love more than anything else – Fort McMurray and the CFL. (Wait, my fiancée is reading this, isn’t she? Okay, make that three things.)

That’s why I am over-the-moon to volunteer as the Director of Promotions for the Northern Kickoff organizing committee, which will see the Edmonton Eskimos and the Saskatchewan Roughriders play a CFL pre-season game in Fort McMurray (yes, here in Fort McMurray!) in 2015.

While most people know me as a long-time Fort McMurray resident, the truth is that I was born in Regina and spent my first nine years there. I have gone back every year over the past two decades to visit my father and further entrench myself in the sea of green that is the Rider Nation.

My Saskatchewan roots have made me a football fan first and foremost over any other sport. There is something about being outside in the sun or rain, screaming with thousands of your closest friends and watching the pulse-pounding seconds of each play.

The actual Northern Kickoff football game is going to be a spectacle. But as we’re going to hear again and again over the next two years, this is about more than just a football game. This is an opportunity to show the rest of Canada what Fort McMurray is really all about – community, passion, and collaboration. We will be live on TSN and have the kind of positive exposure other cities our size would only dream of. Even larger places, such as Halifax, would love to have this opportunity.

While yes, I will be a Riders fan until I die, I cannot say enough about the class of the Edmonton Eskimos organization, as they are the ones giving Fort McMurray this chance to shine. It is a huge leap of faith on their part, and now it is up to us to show them that we won’t drop the ball.

In the last edition of YMM Magazine, I wrote that maybe a CFL team could one day be based out of Fort McMurray. It was half said tongue-in-cheek, but in the few months since I wrote that, I am beginning to become more of a believer. Why couldn’t we sell out nine to 10 games each year and have fans who travel across Canada for the away games? We’re already one of the most diverse cities in the entire country, so it makes sense for us to be on one of Canada’s biggest stages full-time too. The exposure, the economic spinoff, and the community pride that would come from this would be immeasurable.

That’s why the Northern Kickoff is so important. If we nail this one event and the festivities surrounding it, then folks in the CFL head offices and TSN will have to take notice.

So in June 2015, I encourage you to embrace the Northern Kickoff, even if you are not a football fan. There will be tailgate parties like you’ve never seen before, accompanying concerts, activities for the entire family, and more.

The spotlight is going to be on us like never before. I can’t wait for Fort McMurray to score a touchdown.


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