For several years, our family has gathered 'Walton-like' around a television to watch the Grey Cup game. Usually, several other neighbours, relatives and friends have come along. But for the last few years, there have been fewer and fewer who could come to the 'Grey Cup Party'. There is school and work on Monday, so many of the folks left around half-time. In fact, this last Grey Cup on Sunday November 29 -- there were about 35 people here when the game began and all the good things were happening with food and drink, etc. At the end of the game, there were less than ten people left, and most of us were over 60 years old! All the young folks had left -- either because it was necessary to get children to bed for school, or because young adults had to be up and awake early to go to work on Monday morning!
Back in the day, the Grey Cup was played in the afternoon, when everyone could watch it without worrying about sleep time or wake time or children or whatever. In my younger years, it was played on Saturday afternoon, when there was no competition with the NFL or just about anything else! This new fetish for playing the game on Sunday evenings has certainly curtailed the Grey Cup party circuit! I know it has been several years of this -- and our energy for doing the Grey Cup party has just about ended -- when there's nobody left when the hardware is handed out.
I thought the League was looking toward engaging young fans. My eight grandchildren love the Tiger-Cats (and one or two of them the Argonauts (sic)), but all of them had left for home or had gone to bed before the GC game was over. Even last year, when our beloved Tiger-Cats were in the game!
I know that TSN has a lot to say about when games are played, etc. and that might be a valid point for right here and right now and for advertising income, etc. But if you are trying to build a league for all ages, for children and families -- playing the final, exciting game for the whole year at a time when anyone under 12 cannot watch the whole thing -- and the young adults are switching every five minutes to see how New England or Pittsburgh or Seattle or Green Bay or whoever are doing and we all miss the commercials -- I think maybe the elephant in the room is not being seen by the CFL in all this.
After ten years of fighting a losing battle, we are thinking of not holding a 'Grey Cup party' again. After more than forty years of doing it -- it will be strange, but maybe this is the way of the future -- that the GC simply be a TV thing for individuals who want to watch it -- but I really miss the community and family emphasis that was always part of it for me and my family. I'm sad that this tradition is pretty well dead and I'm afraid the whole idea of the Grey Cup as a Canadian institution will go with it. Sure, the folks will turn up at whatever site is chosen, and the Sask fans will make fools of themselves, and the Calgary guys will have their horse, and the rest will have the Canadian Club flowing -- but if the Grey Cup misses the fabric of regular families and the special quality it always had -- I'm afraid it will go the way of Eaton's, Zeller's, and the idea that the Maple Leafs could some day win the Stanley Cup!
What would be wrong with holding the Grey Cup game on a Saturday afternoon? There would certainly then be no competition with the NFL. Or what would be bad about the game being on Sunday afternoon? Yes, it would be against a lot of 'real' games on the NFL. But at what cost do you push the game beyond the children and youth of Canada?