Today for Canadian sports fans marks the high point of this recent binge of football watching on TV. It is Grey Cup Sunday and the big game in Vancouver has Calgary and Hamilton duking it out for the Cup. More on the game here.
Personally, I honestly don’t care who wins and simply plan to just stay at home and watch the game on TSN, for no other reason than to simply avoid the minus-30 conditions outside in our area. Also, fans in the USA get the game on ESPN so they will be able to find out for themselves what the fuss is all about.
It is this time of year that has fans reflecting on the state of the CFL and where it is going. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon gave his final State of the League address before he steps down, and you can read about it here. He spoke of the need to connect with young fans through social media and so on, and I happen to agree. For one thing, these guys need to get with it and develop a decent CFL app for iPad, because their current one is a joke compared to the other leagues. The NHL and MLB apps are far superior, in my view.
Also touted is the fact that, according to surveys, the CFL is an unquestioned number two in popularity in Canada to the NHL, ahead of all the other leagues and sports. So the league seems on a solid footing.
You would not know it, though, listening to the talk shows out here in the frozen West. If you listen to these pessimists, you would think the sky is absolutely falling. They were harping about ticket sales in Vancouver and the number of seats still available, but most of the talk was about Toronto and how irrelevant the CFL is in that city, and how attendance there is terrible and on and on.
Yet the genius solutions being served up here by the commentators include (a) moving up the season, which would mean the Argos will end up in more direct competition with the Blue Jays, and (b) eliminating the East and West divisions, which would not only destroy a longstanding tradition but also eliminate interest out East and particularly during the Grey Cup. None of these “solutions” help the Argos — in fact, they hurt them! I do, however, think fewer Sunday CFL games in direct competition with the NFL would help matters, given how saturated the NFL has become on Canadian TV.
If you want my take on it, a new locale for the Argos in Toronto will solve a lot of problems. The biggest issue right now is how cavernous the Rogers Centre stadium is for football, and how the atmosphere is dead because of it. Put them into a more intimate venue like BMO Field and it will make for a much better atmosphere. On the other hand, other issues in Toronto are harder to solve, like this persistent “big city attitude” they have there.
In general, there are far fewer problems with the CFL than it seems sometimes. It’s just one city, Toronto, dragging down the rest of the league. Solve the issues there, and the league will be in great shape.