I don’t think you can fault Ambrosie for a lot of the problems the league has been facing predate him. That said he hasn’t been the solution.
I would give him the benefit of the doubt with his global initiative if he just got rid of video review and coaches challenges. With MLB umps agreeing to work with that league to develop an computerized strike zone, how I think I would feel about that and what it brings to my mind regarding video review in football I really believe we have to keep the human element in our game.
It all goes back to the Olympics and the human competitive spirit.
It’s what drives us, gets us interested and keep us engaged. Having video review in football cuts into that cycle. It becomes a sport of video review instead of a sport of football as now all we have to complain about is whether the video review got it right, which is really pathetic when you think about it. It should be fans getting riled up at the refs for missing a call, a blown game costing the home team the game. Not debating inconsistencies in protocol or what’s or what’s not reviewable.
The league committed a real cardinal sin by not having the most up-to-date technology. You certainly can’t have it where you cannot even sneeze on a player without getting a penalty flag, yet that’s where the league’s at.
People will complain; that’s human nature. The league has to learn to turn a bit of a blind eye towards this kind of stuff as that’s what builds up the action, creates a little controversy. Now there’s no controversy. Everything fits or is supposed to fit in a tight, little box. And our new enemy sits unseen in another box. Our enemy, or at least our true enemy, is not the refs anymore, which leads me to ask, Are the refs even necessary anymore or should we go all in with the robots like MLB? Maybe we’ll keep the guy who flips the coin, you know, for tradition’s sake and all.
In the meantime we have a man who’s too overly jolly when it comes to the sport of football, despite undeniable truths of declining viewership and attendance issues confronting him. Our commissioner might as well be an ostrich with its head in the sand. He’s either apathetic (Halifax) or pathetic (Calgary) on the stadium front–beggars can’t be choosers, but still he opens his mouth. You can’t blame him for Braley; not unless there’s some way to force him out. He’ll have to wait for the man to die to get him out. And any smart man willing to buy the Alouettes will see there’s a good chance he’ll end up having to pay for the Lions down the road if like the Alouettes they can’t find an competent, locally sourced owner willing to take them off the league’s hands when they inevitably have to assume ownership. Never mind you don’t want to get into a league with 3/9ths of its teams having attendance problems!
RE: Ambrosie’s global initiative… if global players can’t contribute in year 2 we can fix that easy. It’s simple. We’ll keep the “underground railroad” as that’s all and good, but they’ll have to beat out Canadians and we’ll probably have to lower the ratio as well due to low football participation in Canada. We can fix that too, but it’ll probably take twenty years to see if current efforts best the latest trends on concussion numbers before those in football are willing to make the necessary change. At the very least a sports innovator should be on the hiring docket, if not yesterday, as research is important. But I don’t think numbers will so Try Football might as well be Give Yourself a Concussion. Not that it will matter, really. Perception trumps reality, and parents will believe playing football is hazardous for brain health as long as players wear armor and use such armor as weapons.
Sports goers want to see the best available players, anyway, which is another fault for Ambrosie. He’s doing this global initiative for all the wrong reasons. I don’t think he cares if global players affect the quality of the league (is this the first pro, semi-pro league???). He’s sold the BOG on the prospect of rich foreign television deals, but I don’t think they’ll get them. He says he wants to make this league global, but I don’t think you can without international competitions. Going back to the sport’s rugby roots would help this. I imagine a slower paced version of rugby. I can’t imagine the rugby world switching to a theoretical Canadian brand of rugby, but I could see Canadian CFLers switching from more exciting Canadian football + rugby to the mundane version that is internationally accepted (football being turned based is just more strategically inclined to my analytical mind).
If cost is proving prohibitive to the CFL’s business plan, which it is in Montreal, then not having to buy concussion helmets, which I imagine are expensive, would be a plus. Not to mention I would imagine Canadian university players would not be able to easily assimilate to the American game if the games were more drastically different; and you would finally be able to rid yourself of comparisons that the CFL is a minor league compared to the NFL, which I’m sure drives league office to nauseum.
So unless the CFL wants to be arena league tier and just not pay their players well, I see no other way for the league to survive. But I wouldn’t fire Ambrosie just yet. I think he could be great. I can’t imagine comissioner being an easy job. He just needs to be reigned in a little and someone to tell him he’s not a cheerleader.