A diehard Bomber fan’s problem with Winnipeg’s love of the Jets

And why it upsets him…

It is human nature to despise losing. Losing a job, a game, a fight, even losing a cellphone, is something humans are not programmed to like, or even tolerate.

If you are a Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan, you know where I am going with this. The Bombers are now 2-10. The last crushing defeat came after a 20-point lead, at home.

Breathe deep. As a Bombers fan, I’ve seen it all. And that’s one of the reasons I love the team (and love to hate it) – anything can happen when the blue and gold hit the field.

I’ve been a diehard for a few years; a long time, in fact, since before the Jets “came back” (how can something new come back?). I sat through November playoff games on metal benches in the north end zone at Canad Inns Stadium to see my city’s team. I love them. And I’ll always love them.

Then the Jets returned. I do love hockey (more than a friend) and I instantly took to the team just like much of the city did. Finally, we thought, professional hockey had come back to Winnipeg.

Now, before we go any further, I do realize the difference between the Jets and the Blue Bombers. Let us temporarily disregard the fact that the CFL and NHL are not comparable leagues. One organization pulls in roughly $105 million in revenue per year, and the other earned $16.7 million in operating revenue in 2012. I’ll allow you to guess which is which.

But my issue doesn’t lie with money. It’s about how a community-owned franchise gets little to no respect compared to a three year-old, privately-owned franchise whose name is, for all intents and purposes, a marketing ploy.

The loser in the equation is, expectedly, the Bombers. Since 1930, this team has been in Winnipeg and all it ever wanted was our love. It epitomized everything about this city: its grit, its underdog attitude and never-say-die effort. But the Bombers are never completely embraced. Instead, the team is meekly supported until the next big thing comes along.

Sure, it doesn’t help that the Bombers have become perennial losers, and it would not surprise me if, by the time you read this, they’re 2-11. But the team’s “second fiddle” perception saddens me every single year. How can something with such history be disregarded so easily?

As a fan, it is infinitely harder to justify giving money to the Jets than it is the Blue Bombers. While our NHL hockey team is a profitable enterprise, the Bombers have always been here for us.

Yet, Winnipeg’s irrational fan base casts them aside, and consistently runs our best players out of town. Anyone else notice how good Kevin Glenn is for Calgary Stampeders?

As a community, we need to support the organizations that give back, and have been there for us all along. Fools shout “True North!” at Bombers games like the company has anything to do with the Bombers. It doesn’t, so stop doing it. It might be an unpopular opinion, but I wish that my Bombers could get as much respect as the next hot commodity on the block. Maybe then, when the Bombers become relevant again, we can celebrate as a community.

Colin McLarty is a full-time sports fan and works in the technology sector. He is a recent graduate of Commerce at the University of Manitoba, and welcomes any and all criticism.

Published in Volume 68, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 2, 2013)

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