Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What is the REAL Sens Army?

I was somewhat offended and almost shocked when I began to see stickers and posters around downtown, near Scotiabank Place, and on the bus for an organization that called itself the the 'Real Sens Army' or 'RSA'. Their distinctive(ly evil-looking) centurion helmet said alot about the organization: we're Sens fans, and we're more badass than you.

I went to their Facebook group to see what was up with these guys. I got the email of Leonidas of Ottawa (he keeps up the pseudonym because he can't be responsible for where every one of those stickers lands up), and he happily answered all my questions.

Describe your group and its goal.

The RSA was started a couple years ago by a small group of diehard Sens fans who wanted more out of their team’s fans. We were tired of the lack of enthusiasm we met when going to Sens games. People in Ottawa like to pretend that there’s nothing wrong with our fans and that they’re “Loud & Proud”. The truth is, they’re not. There are only a few people who are willing to paint their faces, waive a flag, stand up and yell and do what it takes to be louder than the opposing teams fans (which we have a lot of here in Ottawa). And that’s where the RSA comes in.

We want to make Scotiabank Place an unwelcoming place for opposing teams and their fans. There’s absolutely no reason why Alfie should be booed in our own arena. There’s no reason why we should hear an eruption of cheering when the opposing team scores. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Toronto or Montreal. The RSA wants to change the culture of “Sens Army”. We want to unite the diehard fans and take our building back from Leafs, Habs and our own fair-weather fans. We want to be the loudest, scariest, diehard fans in the league and based on the people I’ve met through the RSA, we definitely have the potential to do so.

It seems like the group was a product of frustration with other Sens fans. Is that true? What makes the "real" Sens Army different from the "normal" Sens Army?

We are frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm the average Sens fan has, but we don’t blame them. They’ve never known any better. Our team is still very young in comparison to Toronto and Montreal’s, so our fan culture isn’t as evolved. Our fans still don’t know that complete silence, interrupted by a few GO SENS GO chants simply isn’t enough. There’s so much more to being a fan than simply showing up for the game. Fans in Montreal and Toronto understand this concept, a concept we’re trying to bring to “Sens Army”. The passion they have those 2 cities is what you’d call being a real fan, hence the name Real Sens Army.

Is your group meant to be all-inclusive? Or is it just for die-hard fans?

Our group has certain criteria, but is not exclusive. To be an RSA member, you have to be 100% committed to our team and our city. You have to have pride in your team, whether they’re first in the conference or dead last. Keep wearing that Sens jersey whether it’s round 3 of the playoffs or the middle of January. As the team says, be Forever RED. That’s what it is to be part of the RSA.

Your facebook description seems to focus on 100-level people quite a bit. What have you got against them?

The reason we make mention of them is quite simple: they’re boring. Having spent many games seated in the 100 level, I know this first hand. Whenever a game is on TV, the fans shown are the ones in 100 level seats. It might sound a little stupid, but I’ve never seen a Sens fan on TV going crazy when Alfie scores a big goal. All I ever see are people barely clapping. Sadly, the only fans you do see with a bit of excitement on TV are the infants! When you watch a Leafs game, people are banging on the boards, with their beer flying out of their cup, waving flags, proudly showing off their jerseys, in a sea of blue... You’d think they won the Stanley Cup after every goal. We simply do not have this 100 level energy in Ottawa. I can’t imagine what people in other hockey markets in Canada think when they see our fans. Frankly it’s embarrassing for us diehard fans and hopefully, at some point, the 100 level will be as fun and electric as some 300 level sections are already.

What else have you got to say?

To those who might not like the idea of a group like the RSA, just listen to the points were trying to make. We’re not trying to tell people how to be a fan or why they aren’t real fans. We simply believe we can change Sens culture, make it stronger and make Scotiabank Place a better environment for our own fans. If we all do our part, we’ll be the envy of every other fan base in Canada in no time! GO SENS GO!
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