Saturday, 4 July 2015


Thank God for the locker room.


Strictly for Members Only.  An exclusive club where dues are payed only through sweat equity.  About 60 or so guys living the dream, trying to win a Grey Cup, and build a households worth of memories in which they can live in once they’re older.  


It’s the ultimate sub-culture.  The only ideals one has to buy into are based on winning a Grey Cup.  

Other than that, one can do as they please.  

Show up in shorts and flip-flops; as long as one is in teamapparel by the 9am meetings, nobody will pass judgement in the locker room. #SeeYaDressCode  

One can have any conversation they want.  Nothing is off the table.  As long as one’s playbook knowledge is as polished as their world views, there will always be someone willing to shoot holes in one’s philosophies.  #ZeroFilters

Be an individual.  That’s what makes the locker room such a lively eco-system.  It consists of guys from all walks of life.  Different musical tastes, food preferences, religious beliefs, and family dynamics.  All in one spot.  It’s an athletic mosaic. 


Football is the ultimate team game, and the design by which locker room follows, ensures that important messaging constantly hits home.  There’s always someone sitting to the left, and a man sitting on the right.  One can’t see eye-to-eye with their neighbour all the time, but being side-by-side is a constant reminder that one is never alone during all the trials and tribulations that are involved in the football business.  Whether on, or off, the field, the locker room upholds unity.


The locker room is also a safe haven.  Surrounding its walls are areas in which a professional athlete may be cast in to their most vulnerable state.


Meeting rooms where game plans are installed, and film is relentlessly scrutinized, are unforgiving at times.  The pressures of having to perform in a production-based business come to a boiling point here.  Depth charts, playing time, and coaching decisions are a difficult shot to swallow sometimes, especially when it means that the chaser is usually ones pride.  


The coaches/front office wing is also a potential place of contempt.  During a good stretch, guys will walk up and down these halls talking to any coach they come across.  One or two bad games, and a player avoids this area at all costs.  There are days when a guy will wait an hour for the player’s entrance to open, rather than taking the short cut through the offices.  #TheyreNotGettinMe


Even the training room can leave a player feeling vulnerable.  The training room is a place where guys are supposed to get healthy, one doesn’t want to spend too much time in there because one never knows when their time is going to be up in this business.  It’s a day-to-day deal.  Spending more time with the trainers than with the coaches leaves players feeling outcast.  Loneliness creeps in when watching teammates walk in and out, laughing and talking trash, while heading to various meetings.  Even though the other areas of the building can be harsh, the training room is the only room that one is by themselves most of the time.  Considering the thoughts that run through players’minds with various ailments, sometimes the silence is haunting.   


 Going into this week’s game against the Toronto Argonauts, the locker room is going to have to ensure that there aren’t any leaks or cracks.  


There’s already people outside of the walls casting doubt at the feet of the organization, and it’s only WEEK 2!  Outside noise cannot be allowed to penetrate the confines in which the players dwell.

This game isn’t about Toronto.  It’s not about proving that this team has the right guys at the right positions, or who’s in andwho’s out.  It isn’t a question of whether the coaching staff and front office are doing enough to secure the future in Saskatchewan, and it’s definitely not time to let panic set in.  


None of that BS matters to the guys in that locker room.  It’s not even on the top of their minds.  The only time a player thinks about any of the above, is when the media gets a chance to get them on camera and ask questions that are designed to create storylines.  #EveryoneHasAjobToDo


This week is about being excited for the guys that are getting an opportunity to play a major role in game, and doing whatever it takes personally so that those players succeed within the structure of the unit.  It’s about welcoming back leaders, and honouring the lost ones by doing everything one can to be prepared; just as those leaders would have if they had been able to.


Thank God for the locker room because being able to stay united and focused keeps everyone`s mind on the task of winning a championship, and not on the narratives that are beginning to lean on the other side of the door.  The Argos looked good in their Week 1 victory, and all the film that’s been downloaded, along with the schemes that have been installed need 100% of a player’s attention.  Guys can’t take time out of their prep days to read articles that make them question coaching decisions or their own ability.


As fans, and media, Ridernation may watch Sundays match-up against the Double Blue with a slight hint of anxiety, mixed in with a bit of doubt, and topped off with some general concern.

If you fit that bill, it’s ok, and very natural considering the culture of the province.  All is not lost!  One of the things that you can take solace in, is the fact that none of the emotions that are affiliated with your experience will be shared by any of the players on the field.  


The players that take the field for the Green and White will be excited and focused.  They won’t even know that you’re concerned with the outlook of things.  All they know is that they’re about to ball out for the guys that they’ve grinded it out with since training camp opened in June.  They’re doing it for each other, and the guys that can’t be on the field with them.  They will be united because of the time they have shared together, not because of the noise that surrounds them.


Thank God for the locker room.  For some reason, it seems as though that’s all the players have right now?!?  


Fortunately for the Saskatchewan Roughriders…That’s all they’ll ever need.


Cups up to the fellas going 1-0 this week!







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