Now it's personal. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are used to being taunted by opposing players and coaches. This time, the Calgary Stampeders are trying to neuter the 'Riders' mascot.
Gainer the Gopher has been told not to show up at McMahon Stadium for this weekend's CFL playoff game. The Stampeders are worried that he'll take away their home field advantage by getting too many 'Riders fans in Calgary riled up.
The Roughriders' main marketing theme this year has been 'The 13th Player'. In TV ads, the colour commentator points to an overzealous fan in the stands, who made a difference for the team.
Of course, Gainer is also called the 13th Roughrider, helping fans pump up the players and rattle the opposition quarterback when he's trying to call a play on the field.
The challenge this weekend for the thousands of 'Rider fans in Calgary, will be to rattle the Stampeders, with or without a mascot. Anyone who's checked the number of expatriate Saskatchewanians in Alberta knows they've got the numbers to do it. And now they have the motivation.
It seems that at least once a year a CFL team tries to snub Saskatchewan, making the fans that much more devoted to their underdogs. This year, it was Calgary's turn to make a shabby move (as if enticing away so many of our skilled workers over the years wasn't insulting enough), and the fans are once again solidly behind their Green and White.
Thanks to Jordon Cooper for the photo of Gainer.