University student researches female fans of Saskatchewan Roughriders
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Katie Sveinson is taking an unconventional look into the psyches of those who celebrate Saskatchewan’s Green and White — particularly the female fans.
Sveinson, a University of Regina masters student, has set out to determine whether female Saskatchewan Roughrider fans are empowered or marginalized – and the result of the pilot project found that neither of those words really describes them.
What she has discovered is that female fandom in Rider Nation is many things — but most of all, it’s inclusive.
“It’s inclusive to everyone,” Sveinson said on Thursday, “and to me, that is something that not a lot of places could maybe accomplish … that level of welcoming and inclusiveness to anyone who wants to be a fan.”
Sveinson interviewed nine women between the ages of 20 and 55 as part of the initial component of the project in January. And two weeks ago, she received a Shirk Scholarship of $17,500 to dig deeper into the subject as part of her masters thesis in the U of R’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies.
She plans to expand the project to include “highly identified” female fans and geographically displaced fans, and will continue to look at what sets Rider fans apart from supporters of the other eight Canadian Football League teams.
“You see that these fans are unique, but it’s why,” said Sveinson.
“Is it being a Riders fan, or is it Saskatchewan? Is it the CFL? Or is it Canada? I have no idea, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg what I have found out about this.”
Sveinson began her research after noticing the difference between when she donned a Riders jersey and a Green Bay Packers jersey – her two favourite teams in the CFL and NFL. She felt people were always questioning her knowledge and fandom while she wore her Packers jersey.
The 24-year-old has found her Rider research to be unique compared with previous studies of women sports fans — most of which came from Europe and Australia where there has been a divide between men and women. That’s not what she sees with the Riders.
“It’s great that we live in a place that fosters this community,” Sveinson said. “Everybody is equal and everybody is a fan — that’s all that matters.”