Realism vs. Optimism

With each passing day that goes by, I get more and more worried. I’m worried about how the CFL is going to recover from this. Watching COVID numbers rise for a bit, then decrease for a bit. Then back up and back down again and with each passing day that the border remains closed. Calgary has put a restriction on all pro sports events until at least September and Ontario isn’t giving any indication that they want to even consider lifting theirs.

Now with Randy Ambrosie’s announcement on Wednesday that we won’t see any football until September at least, I really am concerned that this could cripple the league we all know and love, especially if we don’t see football at all this season. I don’t want that to happen, to be clear. I know I sound all doom and gloom and I’m as much an optimist as I am a realist.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

For a league that relies on ticket sales and fan attendance as their way of staying afloat rather than TV broadcast deals, a lost season is a scary thing to think of. They can only survive on TSN’s and season ticket holders’ money for so long. Though they have asked the federal government for assistance. $30 million now and up to $120 million in the event of a cancelled season.

At this point, two options remain, the best-case scenario is a shortened season, maybe 8 or so games. That brings us to Amrosie’s other announcement, that the 2020 Grey Cup will no longer be hosted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Instead, Sask will host in 2022 with Hamilton continuing to host next year.

This year’s playoff format will be a little different. Whichever two teams make the big game, the team with the better record will host. This gives all nine teams a chance to host, should there still be a game of course. I like this idea because it gives the teams that much more incentive to win, not that they don’t already have enough of that.

I really hope the CFL can salvage some form of a season. Because I keep thinking about the thread on Twitter that I saw from Danny Austin of the Calgary Sun about how three teams combined for nearly half of the CFL’s revenue in 2018. If they don’t get federal assistance and they can’t get fans in the stands, will the owners need to bail their teams out? And if one team folds, does that create a domino effect that proves fatal?

Again, we’re talking about a worst-case scenario here. I want football. You want football. The teams want to play, safety first of course and I commend the CFL for seemingly trying to exhaust all options before that worst-case scenario becomes reality.

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