I’ve been a lifelong Eskimos fan. My family has held season tickets since the 1940s. Passed from my great-grandfather to my grandfather to my father, this annual ticket subscription will inevitably be handed to me in the near future. My grandfather was actively involved with the organization and received 3 Grey Cup rings serving as a member of the Board of Directors. As a result of being born into a family that actively attended games, I’ve been exposed to football at Commonwealth since I was a little kid. To me, the experience of attending a football game as a child was rivaled by very few other experiences.

Wrapped up in layers of jackets and snow pants, you load into the car, picking up family and friends on the drive across town to the immense concrete beast that is Commonwealth Stadium, Brian Hall’s voice fills the car, telling you to ‘come on down to crosstown’. Passengers proclaim their distaste for Brian Hall. Score predictions are made. You shuffle to your seats, picking up a program and a hot chocolate on the way. The announcer’s voice booms. You stand to sing the fight song and fight to catch a mini-football. After the game’s conclusion, your teeth chatter until the warm bath at home brings you back to life. It doesn’t get much better than that when you’re a seven year-old.

As of late, fans of the Edmonton Eskimos haven’t had a lot to cheer about. Ricky Ray, the team’s most successful and well-known quarterback, was traded to the Argonauts during the 2012 off-season for the notoriously disappointing Steven Jyles, a kicker, and a draft pick in the ever-plentiful, star producing CFL draft. The team limped its way to a losing record, making the playoffs via crossover and getting shellacked by none-other than the eventual champion Argos, led by Ricky Ray. Currently in the midst of a 6 game losing skid, the Esks have been marred with injuries, poor play and bad luck. The team is struggling mightily, and the future is filled with uncertainty.

With the struggles of the Eskimos in recent years very apparent, many Edmontonians have backed away from actively supporting the team. The days in which the Eskimos were a perennial powerhouse, making the playoffs each year with ease, have long since passed. Times have changed, but there are still reasons to stay a fan. So many things make the Eskimos an awesome team to support, regardless of how they do on the field. Here are a couple:

Commonwealth Stadium

Perhaps the most important factor in having a good time at a sporting event is the venue. Attending a Red Sox game wouldn’t be the same if it were played at Telus Field. A Manchester United soccer match wouldn’t have nearly the same appeal if it were contested at the soccer pitch outside of Vernon Barford Junior High School. The venue at which a sporting event is played (Fenway Park and Old Trafford in the cases previously mentioned) plays a huge role in creating a memorable atmosphere and experience. By no means does Commonwealth Stadium hold its own against the legendary Fenway or Old Trafford, but it does possess noticeable charm. The Stadium holds 56,302 people, making it the largest in the CFL during the regular season. The field was the last in the CFL to switch from grass to turf. The entire stadium was recently remodelled, including the addition of a fieldhouse and the installation of new seats. The names of legendary Eskimos players line the inside of the stadium, making up the Wall of Fame. Every component of Commonwealth contributes to its great atmosphere and vibe, making it one of the best places to watch a game in the CFL.

The Fight Song

The Edmonton Eskimos fight song is a truly unique and fun part of the Commonwealth Stadium experience. The entire crowd rises and sings along, led by Brian Hall. The fight song isn’t intimidating, frightful or intense in any way, shape or form, but it is a great way for the crowd to bond over a common experience. When you sing the fight song, you are singing a tune that is deeply ingrained into the tradition and history of the Eskimos organization.

The Cheerleaders

Pretty self-explanatory. The Eskimos Cheer Team is widely recognized as the best in the CFL, performing a range of amazing of acrobatics and synchronized dance routines. I shouldn’t have to delve into other reasons why the cheerleaders are awesome—I’ll let your mind run with that one. They provide additional entertainment and keep the crowd engaged, adding a fun element to the football dynamic. Even when the Green and Gold aren’t bringing it on the field, you can always count on the Cheer Team.

While the Eskimos haven’t been successful as of late, there is no reason why you should back away from supporting them. Every team, no matter how mighty or legendary, experiences tough times. Even so, things are looking up. Mike Reilly has the makings of a star quarterback. Stadium renovations (for the most part) are complete. Fred Stamps is Fred Stamps. Make sure that the next time you make the journey to watch a game at Commonwealth, you take the time to appreciate what makes the Eskimos special to you.

 

Creative Commons Photography Courtesy of Hobvias Sudoneighm on Flickr