Argos stand up for Toronto***

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Controlling gun violence in our city should be left up to the cops and the politicians, so why are the Toronto Argonauts making it their business?

Because they care enough to be involved in the cause, which is the hot-button issue facing our city.

No longer can we call our city Toronto the Good, because for all of its charm, cleanliness and quality of life compared to other major metropolises, it no longer is safe.

That disappeared with the increasing stories of gun-related crimes that have resulted in the deaths or serious injuries of some innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; their lives ended or ruined by gangs whose moral compasses are stuck on zero.


And here come the Argos, an organization which was on its last legs only three years ago, operating on nothing more than goodwill and a head coach, Pinball Clemons, who only a year before in his role as president talked about the team moving forward with an "ethos of competence."

Only a year later, ethos became pathos and competence turned to incompetence, as the pitiful team fell into financial disrepair, claimed by the Canadian Football League after the individual who owned the team, the New York-based Sherwood Schwarz, stopped paying his bills.

Two Toronto-based businessmen, David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski, made it their civic duty to buy the team.

Cynamon and Sokolowski, both bright, young and eminently successful, believed they could turn around the moribund franchise. They hired an individual, Keith Pelley, an effervescent pepperpot with a passion for football, to run the club. He had seemingly left a secure job as president of TSN to take the wheel of the Good Ship Argonaut, which looked more like the Titanic.

But through patience and careful handling, the Argos have been turned around -- some would say miraculously.

But it hasn't been enough for these caretakers to merely show their "ethos of competence" in how they manage the product on the field. Rather, it's just as important to make a statement about how a sports team that is not owned or managed by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment or Rogers Communications Ltd. can make a difference in the way Torontonians think about an issue as serious as guns and violence.

Think about it ... football is a game of controlled violence, and here is a team preaching against violence.

The Argos began their Stop The Violence, We Are Toronto campaign last August and it gradually has moved forward with the help of the police, politicians, religious officials, youth groups and businesses all working together for the common good.

The Argos announced yesterday they were giving $100,000 in grants to four community-based organizations committed to ending gun and gang violence in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Argos hope to raise another $500,000 by the end of the year with the help of corporate support and initiatives such as a walk-a-thon in May or June. The team is selling merchandise with the Stop The Violence, We Are Toronto message.

Inasmuch as the Argos are trying to build up their brand, they clearly are not prostituting the public in the name of a charity.

A few years ago under a different ownership and management, the Argos tried to raise awareness for Parkinson's research by bringing in Muhammad Ali to appear at a football game. It was a noble idea, but the bridging of the team with the boxing icon clearly didn't mesh.

There is a definite symbiosis to this project. It is real and so are the people sending out the message.

Last year, the Argos made 300 appearances in the community.

They have become Toronto's team, certainly not in the popularity of the Leafs, Blue Jays or Raptors, but front-runners in civic responsibility and consciousness.

i bet to differ about being less popular than the Jays or Raptors....that part is way off....way to ruin a good article.

they are more pop than the Jays or the Raptors (which must stay!), but the Leaves are the most popular by far.

Good to see them get involded! but I can't imagine crime being very high in Canada compaired to the US, where it seems that their is a gun murder every week.

Too bad the high and over priced athletes from the Crap Jays, Craptors and Leafs do not do a fraction of the community work the the Pinball and his Argos are involved with. They are truly one of a kind.

good point, argotom.

I would suspect that the Argos are more popular than the Blue Jays, and the Raptors ... definitely in terms of attendance (especially compared to the Blue Jays, there). Sadly, there might be more people who follow the Raptors and Blue Jays, at least in the standings or in the rest of the NBA/MLB ... argotom, you do have a good point. And good on the Argos ... I'm starting to like them!

the argos have higher attendance than the bluejays and the raptors, and have higher tv i'd say the argos are more popular than those 2 teams.

maybe the raptors WERE more popular when they had vince carter....but not now.

The argos are not more popular than the Jays and Raptors. I hardly ever hear about them on the radio or anything. They get thrown on the back hand of the Toronto sun unless it's the playoffs or something. If those two franchises were winning they would be selling out all the time I have no doubt, and now that the Blue Jays went out and spent a boat load of money for some great players, the argos will probably take a backseat. The jays were selling out the skydome night and day in the early 90s when they were contending. Argos are definitely more popular in this town, but they are still a blip on the radar. I think it hurts the argos that Godfrey, Rogers, and our mayor miller keep trying to get an NFL team here. They make it seem like the argos are just short term.

Now with MLS soccer comming here and their season conflicting with the CFL season, I don't know how many european fans they will steal from the argos.

The Argos are on the rise though in Toronto in terms of popularity. I don't think you can just gauge it on how the media reacts to the Argos or how many shirts are in the store windows, whether the Jays and Raptors would sell out if they are winning, along with the Leafs, and that. Of course the media and stores will always cater more to the "big 4" - NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB - just the way it is in Toronto and many other Canadian cities. That's fine, it is something totally expected. But to me, the Argos are like some Canadian wines, not all the hype of the European ones, but to the wine connoiseur, they know there are some good ones (so they tell me, I'm not a real wine fan) and they hold their own with a certain consumer base. The Argos are exactly that, a Canadian product that doesn't have all the hype of the "big 4" in Toronto, but having a quality fan base that is slowly growing for a number of reasons including local ownership, people reaquainting themselves with the great history of the team and league, the fact they play in a great Canadian league that is not like the "big 4", the great entertainment value for the dollar the CFL delivers. If the Argos had their own totally outdoor stadium seating 20,000 - 30,000, there would be a waiting list for seasons tickets, I am sure. The Argos do have and will continue to have with the current great ownership, a real niche market in Toronto among all the other big time options.

Also Argos_Bills, the new MLS team will have a different fan base than the Argos. The soccer team will have more Europeans that have immigrated here while the Argos will have more of what I would call Canadian born and raised fans who grew up with North American football.

And also, Godrey and Rogers want to keep the talk up, even though it is cheap no truth talk, about the NFL is coming to Toronto as they perceive, and are afraid of, the Argos having too much popularity since they play most of their games when Rogers' Jays play, competition. Godfrey thinks nothing of putting down the Argos and CFL in the media for his own selfish Jays concerns. He is cutthroat all the way. Another reason I will never, ever attend another Jay game as long as he is associated with them, he is an arrogant self serving **tard and I have no use for this man.

Dallas Cowboys made a move a few years ago against violence. They were giving tickets for a game to anyone who gave back a gun, no question asked.

Actually the Leafs do a lot of work with sick children in Toronto. Cujo was a major part of it till he moved to Detroit, then Pheonix, but the rest of the Leafs still make donations and visits. Not as much as the Argos but still a lot.