Four million dollars — that used to be the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ drop-dead amount of debt.
Now it’s the amount of money distributed last year by CFL teams to amateur football across Canada. The league’s good-news announcement nearly got lost in all of its offseason excitement, complete with the annual sojourn at a Canadian ski resort and a subsequent trip to Mexico City for the inaugural combine and draft of Mexican players.
There were 2,000 appearances by CFL players and coaches at clinics and tournaments, plus direct donations to specific programs. The Roughriders were lauded for hosting a jamboree in La Ronge, but they have also distributed bleachers throughout the province and allow the province’s junior and university programs to benefit from 50/50 draws during their games at Mosaic Stadium.
Twenty-five years ago the Roughriders were so deeply in debt they nearly hit the $4-million mark. Their treasurer, Tom Shepherd, said the community-owned franchise would fold at that point. Now the Roughriders are so wealthy they can handily contribute their share to the CFL’s admirable goal of helping amateur football, to the tune of about $450,000 per franchise.