It’s time the Riders allow only vaccinated fans into Mosaic Stadium

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats/Arthur Ward

It’s time for the Saskatchewan Roughriders to do the right thing.

Actually, it was time for the Riders, and also the Elks, to do the right thing months ago, but it’s always better late than never when it comes to keeping their fan base and by extension their business safe.

The Riders are one of just two teams in the CFL and one of a shrinking number of professional sports teams in Canada that currently do not have vaccine requirements for fans attending their games.

That has to change.

In a perfect world, the provincial government would have stepped up and done its job of ensuring the safety of all of Saskatchewan’s residents. But, given their lack of preparedness for every single wave of COVID-19, an overall lack of action and prevention from this crew isn’t at all surprising.

I could go on about the government, but it is what it is at this point.

Since the province said there would be no restrictions on large events in Saskatchewan, the Riders have been following the rule of the land with no vaccination requirements or reduced capacity.

Since the start, they’ve said they would leave it up to the health experts. Fine. But you can only hide behind that thought for so long.

While this government’s health experts aren’t saying much, plenty of others are elsewhere. There are even teams — like the Calgary Stampeders, where Alberta’s rules are similar to Saskatchewan’s — who are now requiring fans to be vaccinated despite no requirement from their provincial governments to do so.

Want an apple to apple comparison? Right now we know of nine cases of COVID-19 linked to the Riders home opener. It doesn’t seem like much, but given what we know about the Delta variant at this point, nine cases quickly turns into many more.

Manitoba, meanwhile — which requires vaccination for large events — to date hasn’t been able to link anything to the Bombers home opener. Both teams had over 30,000 people at their game with very different results.

The evidence is beyond obvious at this time. Cases and hospitalizations in Saskatchewan are on the rise. Not all of that is because of Rider games, but we have the lowest number of vaccinated people with essentially no rules. It was bound to happen regardless, given the situation we’ve been put in.

With that in mind, the Riders themselves could have been proactive on the issue and made this the rule from the start. If they’re worried about dealing with angry fans who aren’t vaccinated and already have tickets, then they only have themselves to blame.

I will admit at this time it’s likely too late for vaccine requirements to be in place for the Labour Day Classic against Winnipeg, but a mask mandate should be rolled out and strictly enforced.

At this point, there’s no reason for the Riders to do nothing. They can’t afford to do nothing, vaccinated fans are getting frustrated and that’s not good for business or their place in the community.

If they do in fact do nothing, then it will be nothing short of a cowardly abandonment of the community that has long supported them.