Labour Dispute: The Tradition of the Labour Day Classic

Guest Blogger | Updated Aug 11, 2011

Written By Guest Blogger: Jordan Toppings Let’s put our grudges aside, let’s cool it on the beverages, let’s put our differences to rest, and let’s cut it out on the banjo jokes…let’s just go out and enjoy some quality football, shall we? With all due respect to the more “sensitive” readers out there, “Screw That!”

As we enter into the last week of the CFL before the bye weeks begin next Thursday, the time to relish in the league’s best rivalries is right around the corner. Cold beers, BBQ, good friends, weekend-long tailgate parties, and great football games makes Labour Day Weekend a great time of year. But wait, when I say rivalries, that definitely includes the battle of Ontario, but in a surprise scheduling move, the league has ended the tradition of the Argos vs the Ti-Cats. Not a smart move by NoYards’ standards.

Why is the Labour Day game such a big deal? Well let me put it this way. Whether you grew up in a small town or a big city, if you played any kind of organized league sport through extra-curricular or school, the closest school or team to your home base was your worst possible enemy. That’s just the way it is. And all of this holds true for the CFL. Whether it’s the battle of Alberta, battle of Ontario, or perhaps the most hyped rivalry, the Sasky / Winnipeg Prairie grudge, Labour Day weekend represents everything that’s great about the Canadian Football League.

I know a lot of you readers from Alberta or Ontario are going to disagree saying that the Bombers vs Riders rivalry is the most significant of the Labour Day matchups, and you might think this way because a Rider fan is writing this article, but it’s not even up for debate. Aside from the discontinued experiment of pitting the Lions up against the Als over the last 5 consecutive years, the Prairie Labour Day Classic is the only rivalry that goes across the East and West Division, which means it only happens once a year. Aside from the years where an Ottawa franchise existed, causing the Bombers to play in the West, and the one time the Prairie Rivals met in the Grey Cup in 2007, the Riders and Bombers only meet annually, so that’s a whole year of bragging rights.

What else makes this tradition great? Oh right – the 2nd half of the home and home series that falls on the following weekend. This is the part where you either give me a drum roll or if you’re from Winnipeg, the Banjos kick in…

The following week rematch is becoming a great addition to the Labour Day Classic, and unless the Riders meet the Bombers in the Grey Cup, the two clubs don’t see any of each other beyond that week-long span in early September each year. Having a following week grudge match to give a team the opportunity to settle the score from the Labour Day matchup is a perfect addition to all of the hype.

Aside from the importance of a Prairie or Provincial rivalry, if I haven’t answered what’s so great about the Labour Day Games by mentioning beer, tailgate parties, and BBQ, take this into consideration: Rivalry breeds hostility. Hostility breeds animosity. Animosity breeds jealousy, hatred, and all good things that make the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat that much more important. The Labour Day matchups are something that should be cherished in this unique football league we love, not that it promotes sportsmanship (it doesn’t by the way). Actually, I’ve heard reports that certain Prairie rivals like to use spilled Gatorade on the turf as incentive for wasps and other annoying insects to pay a visit to the visitors’ bench in the hot prairie sun. (Unfair, cheap, or just plain awesome?).

The Labour Day games bring out the best fight in the players, and the highest level of competition from the teams, making for some great football. Consider it pointless, consider it the halfway point of the season, or consider it the greatest game of the year. It doesn’t matter what each team’s record is going into the Labour Day game, because in a rivalry, it’s all about the game at hand, the past records don’t matter (well, maybe to the team who has more wins in the rivalry).

Enjoy the weeks ahead, and join us in our outcry to the CFL – BRING BACK THE BATTLE OF ONTARIO!