Realty One

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


CALGARY, Alta. /Troy Media/ – Like the Batman franchise, the Canadian Football League has had many faces and plenty of near-death experiences. And like the caped crusader, the CFL has familiar nemeses, predictable plot lines and a miraculous escape at the end of every story line.

So working up alarm for the CFL is pointless. It was here when we were born, it will be here when we die. The faces and names change, but the dynamic remains.

That said, it’s going to be a hairy episode for three-down football in the 2017 season. Let’s do a mise en scene for CFL: The Dark League Rises.

• The Toronto Argonauts held a pre-season game the other night that was outdrawn by several street mimes in Yorkville. There is no expectation that attendance numbers will grow significantly barring an undefeated season and Bruce Springsteen singing the national anthem.

This in spite of getting themselves into a new stadium with solid ownership from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). It’s been said a million times so let’s make this the last: the Argos are the national advertising lynchpin for the league. While southern Ontario ratings on TSN remain as strong as the Argos’ attendance is weak, the numbers we’re looking at in 2017 aren’t good.

• Having zapped Jeffrey Orridge as commissioner this off-season, the league has yet to fill the post. One source said it was like dealing with “kids” when he did business with the commissioner-less CFL. The job is thankless with this ownership group. Like working for nine Donald Trumps. But they need to get the right person this time.

I can think of several people who’d be perfect. But I like them too much to inflict the CFL board of governors on them.

• With the retirement of Henry Burris, the CFL’s inventory of recognizable stars is down to Bo Levi Mitchell and the guy in Regina whose helmet explodes when the team scores. There was the usual emigration of names to the National Football League over the winter and they can’t return before mid-season. Yes, it’s all about the crest on the helmet in the CFL. But a few stars, please?

• The ongoing controversy over concussions in sport is doing football no favours. While soccer has also been tainted by the revelations about brain injuries, football has received the bulk of the negative stories. There still seems to be a steady supply of athletes playing the sport in Canada, but there’s a decided pushback in the culture against football, rugby and hockey for their violence.

This culture clash also highlights the demographic gap facing the CFL. Its core audience is aging and the league is nowhere with millennials. Being seen as a sport that destroys its participants has to be reversed if the CFL is to prosper among a younger audience.

• The league has had a nice influx of new stadiums or upgrades of late. Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Mosaic Stadium in Regina and Investors Group Field in Winnipeg are impressive new facilities. Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa have renovated facilities. Edmonton still has Commonwealth Stadium, site of the 2018 Grey Cup Festival.

(All Rights Reserved/Troy Media/PedersenMedia)


Anonymous said...

the exploding head in Regina was silenced about 10 years ago so really only on star left

Anonymous said...

This is 4 minutes of my life I won't get back. What a bunch of useless drivel.

Anonymous said...

Alarmist... maybe. Here's the thing in our short history as species the lust for blood and violence has never really subsided it'll be there generations from now. Professional sports is just the current incarnation. People will pay and there will be participants. The thing is those that pay to watch actually want to participate but can't at some level

Jarrett Rusnak said...

1. The Argos are NOT owned by MLSE. 5,000 fans for a home pre-season game on a weeknight in Toronto is what they drew at Rogers Centre, and Varsity Stadium over the last five years. Regular season attendance - especially on weekends, is substantially higher. The Argos have 7 of their 9 remaining home games on Saturdays - their first decent set of home dates in many years. They no longer have to take the scraps left over by the Blue Jays (or worry about being bumped altogether), and the awkward home schedule last season (several games on weeknights, including Monday & Tuesday games) was due to construction issues at BMO Field. We should see much higher numbers than previous seasons.

2. The Flame hasn't been a part of Rider celebrations for over twenty years.

3. If this guy thinks BLM is the only current 'Star' in the CFL - he has no business writing for the league. In general, he doesn't seem to have much of a clue about anything CFL themed.

4. Orridge reported numbers are up with Millennials - partly due to Draft Kings and other fantasy games.

Anonymous said...

delete this article, the author is a goof and the whole thing is marred with wrong information.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rusnak
Thank you for setting the record straight on this pathetic excuse for journalism. Canada has to many lazy journalists like Dowbiggin, who write uninformed articles to slam the CFL in order to meet a deadline.

Anonymous said...

"Oh" to be a journalist, you get paid for any crap you write and there is little accountability. Not all journalists are irresponsible however.

FYI... I was at the Bomber - Rider first exhibition game of the season at the new stadium. I was overlooking the field and stadium when a guy about 50ish dressed in blue came alongside me and also took in the view. After about 5 minutes I convinced myself to talk to the 'Bomber Fan". Turns out he is a life time Rider Fan that flew out from Toronto just to take in the first game at the new stadium. Air Canada lost is luggage when he flew in from Toronto and he wore what he was wearing when he landed in Regina. We had a 15 minute discussion on the state of the Riders and the CFL. One remark that he said I won't forget.... "It is really hard to believe how many people like me in Rider Nations". We are the Green Bay of The North, he explained. I just had to be here for the first game ever in the New Mosaic.

As you do, we parted ways as we had to get to our respective seats. A great CFL experience! Thanks Random Rider Nations guy!!!!!! I later regretted not being able to discuss the Riders further with the guy but it was fun while it lasted. Go Riders!


Anonymous said...

Dowbiggin is a "hockey" writer. He has won awards for his books and articles about HOCKEY !!!
He hasn't a sniff about the CFL. Why would you put such drivel in your column?

Rod Pedersen said...

For reaction from people like you.

Anonymous said...

Lol. Not surprising Roddy would give this hack a bit of publicity. Gotta stick together I guess.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Dowbiggin article = uninformed, misguided, lazy ass.

mister winnipeg said...

This article is awful. Zero research or insight. Like some kid who throws together a term paper a half hour before it's due.

Paul Holloway said...

Rod, I don't post much. But honestly, this article is high school calibre. I would expect better if posted here.

Anonymous said...

The 15-35 year old demographic does not watch CFL football.
The CFL will continue to decline to the point of irellevancy.

Anonymous said...

To put Dowbiggin's pic above the legendary Don Matthews is a disgrace to mankind.

Anonymous said...

Is it amateur hour? This article stinks!

Anonymous said...

Rod. Can you tell me what the attendance was for the Hamilton at Toronto game on June 16, 2017...won by the Argos 23-16? Was it 12,533?