Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shiny stadium sets high standard for players

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If there was a single gift the Winnipeg Football Club could receive this season that would dramatically improve their team for 2013, suffice to say it is already in the process of being wrapped and delivered.

There is no singular free agent acquisition, no recycled coaching appointment, no new assistant GM hire that could or will have the effect this gift will have on the football franchise in the coming season.

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about the ramifications of the pending move into Investors Group Field.

On occasion, I am hired to do speaking engagements where one of the points I address is professionalism in the workplace. The industries I present to ask me to relay my experiences of maintaining a professional decorum in the face of adversity, conflict and an ever-changing environment, scenarios that professional football hand delivers on a daily basis.

One of the biggest challenges I convey during this presentation is being a professional when you aren't necessarily working in a professional environment.

Part of being a professional is understanding what needs to be done without being told to do it and having the motivation to follow through. In the football landscape, the best example of this is in-season training. Those players that recognize the importance of it and make the sacrifices in their daily schedules to incorporate it, see tangible benefits on the field. Yet one of the problems a player might encounter at the old stadium was the lack of a suitable training environment.

In 11 years of employment with the Bombers, I rarely, if ever, trained at the facility during the off-season.

Those years that I did use their facilities for in-season training, it was only out of convenience and as the years went by, I started doing that less and less, inconvenient or not.

So on the one hand, a player recognizes that the football club he plays for has expectations for the level of conditioning he is able to maintain throughout a football season. Yet, when the infrastructure does not exist, or is substandard like we witnessed at the old barn, it creates conflict in the mind of an athlete as to what is expected of him.

Along these lines, the eventual move to the new stadium is simply a much bigger manifestation of the athletic principle that if "you look good, you play good."

Preening

You would be surprised how much time a high percentage of a roster spends preening in front of the mirror on game day and outfitting themselves with the right look of armbands, gloves, towels, facepaint and visors.

When players are dressed like professionals they tend to play more like them.

Simply from the standpoint of asthetics, a state-of-the-art facility sets the tone and the bar much higher for the players that will be kicking off its inaugural season.

They say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, and this stadium will be outfitted for multiple championship teams.

Every player needs to be proud to represent the team they play for and the place where they play.

To a first-year player in Winnipeg, they don't see the history of a place like Canad Inns stadium.

They don't know any of the great players that came before them or are aware of the championship rosters that have been celebrated in that facility. All they see is a crumbling, rundown stadium that does not wear its age gracefully or with dignity. When a player, new or otherwise, sees first hand the kind of investment the city, province and fan base have now made in the football team, not only does it convey how serious a region is about pigskin but that the performances better be reflective of such an environment.

As a fan told me while mulling over the effect a new stadium would have on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers roster, "It (the stadium) better impact the team in a positive way. It's practically the only reason I renewed my season tickets."

 

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2012 C2

History

Updated on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM CST: corrects typo

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