When we talk about professional sports here in Calgary, the Flames and the Stamps almost immediately shoot to the front of the list. Some people might mention some other franchises that were once here or barely hanging on--the Cannons and the Storm for example--but one name that has grown on me has been the Roughnecks.
Now, some of you must be wondering who the hell the Roughnecks are. They are Calgary's National Lacrosse League team, now in their third year of existence in a sport that is quite a thrill to watch. Lacrosse is fast-paced, hard-hitting and crazy. It's similar to hockey without the ice, and with a ball that guys sling at goals with nets mounted on sticks.
But that is not what has driven me toward following more lacrosse.
Before the Roughnecks arrived in town, I was watching the Toronto Rock on some of their games on Sportsnet. I didn't expect that within a few years Calgary would get its own team along with other Canadian centres. Of course, the first year was disappointing--Calgary missed the playoffs but just a smidge--and last year Calgary was eliminated in the first round. Names like Tracey Kelusky, Kaleb Toth and Tyson Leies seem to be more important to me now than names like Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy or Marcus Crandell.
As I tried to catch the games on television or read results in the paper, what is most surprising is the Roughnecks, still haven't gotten the attention that they deserve. Just last week, I watched the Roughnecks totally eat the Vancouver Ravens alive in the second half en route to a 10-8 win in the first game of the 2004 season. The next day the Calgary Herald had only reserved a small corner of both pages one and two of the sports section for the game story.
The front page is all good, but it is barely the length of one of the Gauntlet's news stories with a simple game recap. Then, the rest of the week there is no more coverage. The front pages for the rest of the days are crowded with NHL stats, and occasionally comments from Bruce Dowbiggin. While the Flames and the Stamps are admittedly the big-ticket teams in town, the lack of respect shown to the Roughnecks by the local media is incredible. They are treated as the third-stringers, alongside the floundering Calgary Storm and international sporting news.
This is not where the Roughnecks belong. They belong with the big boys now. They deserve a level of media attention and respect comparable to what the Flames and the Stamps have. We can all do something to change this however, go to the games, watch them on television, talk about them. Whatever you do, make it your business to care. Respect is earned, but attention must be grabbed--and that is what we need to do. The 'Necks work hard, and they deserve it. So while the Flames are hot and the Stamps are a mess, don't forget the Roughnecks. They deserve attention and respect too.