Import rule: brilliant innovation or missed opportunity.

Given that every second thread in these forums ends up in a debate about the benefits vs problems with the CFL's Import rule, I figure, like the Stadium, we need a thread devoted exclusively to this never-ending debate. Please post your opinions here.

My $0.02 is that it is a brilliant innovation. Every sports league on the planet, with the exception of US based leagues, suffer the problem that there are more athletes and more money for training in other parts of the world than in their corner of it. Yet the fans of those leagues predominantly come from the corner of the world where the league plays. The fans want to see their friends, neighbours and fellow citizens get a chance to play in the league that their support pays for.

Over the years the CFL has had questions come in from a wide range of (non-US) sports leagues, from Italian "American" Football to Australian Basketball, looking to copy some element of our import rule. Even European Soccer leagues worry about the fact that if their professional teams can hire the very best players in the world, where will their Belgium, or Danish players ever get playing time to become good enough to create a competitive national team.

I've read all the arguments pro and con our import rule and I remain convinced our league is more fun and our games are more interesting with Marwan, Peter, Dave, Andy and the rest of our great non-import players.

And since you are the one who pays the bills . It is very comforting to read this from you. :thup:

The Caretaker appreciates that the "C" in CFL stands for Canadian. Good Canadian ownership is very important , also.

Pat Lynch (the old guy)

I totally agree that requiring teams to use non-imports, and not just at the "non-skill" positions, makes the league better for the fans. There is an intangible benefit (or maybe tangible - only an owner could say one way or another) to having local players on the team for fans to cheer for.

The biggest issue with the import rule I can see is the exclusion of the quarterback. This has resulted in Canadian quarterbacks being passed over in favour of Americans because there is the assumption that they don't have experience against the "better" defended in t/he NCAA. Is the league looking into ways of fixing this? I have made recommendations in other threads which I think could work, including a possible wording to the actual rules in the CFLPA CBA. Basically it is to include the first and second string quarterbacks in the import count, but continue to exclude them from the starter count.

Frankly, its bizarre how the CW issue turned into a beef about the ratio when, far more accurately, its about the SMS and the pros/cons of the old NFL window.

Seriously, when people start going after CDNs like Fantuz to fluff up CW the discussion has jumped the shark.

First, I congratulate you, Mr. Young for formally addressing this issue and agreeing to become involved in the discussion. I doubt that any of the other CFL owners would be willing to engage in this controversial topic in such a public manner.

If you believe, as I do, that the CFL is in the entertainment business, you will understand that the league's primary responsibility to its fans, sponsors and broadcast partners should be to provide the highest quality, most exciting and entertaining on-field product it can provide. That starts with allowing teams to select and field the most skilled, talented and athletically-gifted players it can find. The players are the entertainers - they are the ones who make the plays and create the interest and excitement. The league cannot achieve its full entertainment potential as long as it forces its own teams to employ under-skilled, under-talented players simply to meet an arbitrary and counter-productive roster quota.

If, on the other hand, you believe the league's mission is to function as a de-facto development league and provide jobs for aspiring Canadian (non-import) football players regardless of their ability, then I really see no purpose in having imports in the league at all.

Hey Seymour, thanks for giving Canadian kids a boost. I guess you'll be attending the Bills games in the future. Now that is an outstanding product, my friend. :smiley:

Pat Lynch(the old Canadian guy)

No thanks, I'll continue to watch 3-down football and continue to advocate for the CFL to come to its senses and give itself a chance to provide the best, most entertaining product possible.
If I want to attend a 4-down football game any time soon, it will be at the NCAA level - not the NFL.

I remember a Canadian player once saying something along the lines that the league does need to have Americans in the game in order to sell it more with glitz and give the league the perception that is it getting great football players ie. most Americans in the CFL are all-stars from college down south and that sells.

But from this player's comments it does suggest to me that the league really is run for the most part by Canadians in the CFLPA and those Americans who have stayed up here and would rather the league have no imports at all. I'm speaking of the CFLPA now, I don't mean the CFLPA actually operates the league, no, that is the management of the league. But the CFLPA, as we know, does have a fair bit of clout in how the league operates I believe.

It would be interesting if the import rule was dropped and the number of Canadians playing went to say about 6-10 percent or so, which seymour might agree would be the number thereabouts that could make a CFL team at present with no import rule, and most of those on the bench, and yet the CFLPA is still made up largely of Canadians.

Not really. It was hijacked again to tell us that because a few Canadians make nice money it is unfair to poor Chris Williams. :roll:

CFLPA is made up by all the players but leaders are voted and tenure is important to the players voting. A guy who's been in the league for 5 to 10 years will know the issues more than a guy who is new to the league or does not spend the whole year in Canada. So because of tenure and residence, most of the leaders are Canadians.

I completely agree with the import rule. I would like to see it apply to Quarterbacks as well though.

Recognize this information is from 2011, but here's the breakdown of the CFLPA player/team representatives. Just to make sure we're dealing with accurate information.

14 are non imports or 58.333%
10 are imports or 41.666%

I believe the CFL has it about right with the current ratio. The 7 Canadian starters are the minimum number for the league to remain credible...after all this is the Canadian Football League.

While the league could perhaps slightly improve overall play by going to All-American lineups, how long would the Canadian game survive with all American players and coaches? What would be the purpose? Assembling a group of Americans to learn how to play a game that Canadian's used to play? Some new American players might ask, "like why are the rules so strange here, are they just trying to be different? What's wrong with American football, it's the game we all know and love and have played all our lives?"

Without the chance for a pro football career in the CFL, the CIS football programs would wane. Many athletes would choose other sports which offer more future opportunities. With CIS football diminishing, this could also effect the popularity of football at the high school level, and so on.

So what would we accomplish by eliminating Canadians from the CFL? It would eventually kill the CFL and Canadian football. Then we'd end up playing a brand of minor-league American football which nobody will want to watch. Football would become the equivalent of Sr. lacrosse in Canada.

You simply can't play Canadian football with any less than 7 of 24 starters being Canadian. That's as far as we can go in the Americanization of our sport, without the league losing it's reason to exist.

Even if some Canadian players need a year or two of seasoning to compete with the top American recruits, it's a level playing field which effects all teams equally. Balancing the ratio is an important task for all teams and adds another level of intrigue to the team's operations.

With regards to developing Canadian QB's, we could throw out the 3 QB positions and allow import & non-import QB's to count in the ratio. For example, the roster could be, 17 imports; 4 designated-imports; 21 non-imports = 42 players (with 3 players allocated as QB's and who could not play any other position). Then we could proudly say that half the players on CFL rosters are Canadian (or Australian). :wink:


Let us also realize that most every country, including Canada & the United States, has labour laws which both restrict & allow specific types of foreign workers coming to their country to work in specific industries. The reasons for labour certification are of course varied but generally revolve around the central theme of protectionism. Here we get into discussions of "Infant Industries".

From the US DoL;

"Foreign labor certification programs permit U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary or permanent basis to fill jobs essential to the U.S. economy. These programs are generally designed to ensure that the admission of foreign workers into the United States on a permanent or temporary basis will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages, and working conditions of U.S. workers."

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Before anyone asks, preference to Canadian Citizen Workers for jobs in Canada was upheld in Lavoie v Canada in 2002.

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So, in the end, I don't see this as a CFL specific issue. It's a much broader legal and ultimately economic issue. Every country protects certain industries and specific workforces. Canada and the CFL is no different.

And I for one am glad they have done such. I don't think I would have the same emotional attachment & loyalty to the CFL if it were not for "The Ratio". I simply would not be as much of a die-hard fan if it weren't for the "non-imports" that I've read about and watched play amateur football here in this country before they make it to the professional level.

For those against the ratio, I ask them what they think the NFL or NBA or MLB and the United States as a whole would do if their major sporting leagues were dominated by foreigners? Here's the quick answer ... Congressional Hearings and Senate Reform Bills ... That's what would happen.

The players and coaches do not run the league - the team owners and governors, with the co-operation of the Players Association run the league. There are not going to be any changes to the fundamental operations and rules of the league unless they are approved and implemented by the the people in charge - namely, the owners, governors and CFLPA. You can rest assured that American players and coaches who choose to work and play in the CFL will not, on their own, be empowered to change the fundamental CFL rules and mode of operation.
If import players and coaches from the US don't agree to the rules and terms and conditions of employment in the CFL, they don't work here - simple.

As far as I know, there are no rules to restrict foreign-born players in the NFL, or the NBA, or MLB, or the NHL.
Of the top 50 rated players in professional golf currently, only 22 wear the US flag. I'm not aware that the PGA restricts foreign-born players from participating in its sanctioned events. I haven't heard of the US Congress or Senate working on any laws to put a stop to this insipid foreign invasion - perhaps you know something that I don't.
No, I guess those sports bodies and politicians are content to allow sports fans to simply be entertained by the best available players - regardless of country of origin. What a unique concept!

Perhaps they aren't looking at the PGA because golf didn't originate in the US but in Scotland. Also the first PGA was in Great Britain, not the US.

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As for the NFL, NBA and MLB they are still dominated my Americans. The NHL was started in Canada .

Key word in my previous post was "if". "I ask them what they think the NFL or NBA or MLB and the United States as a whole would do IF their major sporting leagues were dominated by foreigners? "

Because when other US industries have come under the threat of foreign workers, the US has implemented protectionist measures. Even in your frequently mentioned entertainment industry, the US restricts the amount of Canadians that can work on a film shoot/movie set. Film production companies have to show that the foreigner they are bringing in is so specialized & has skills so unique that no worker in the US posses same said skills or aren't available.

I would bet once again, that if the precious sporting industries of the United States became flooded and dominated by foreign players, major reforms would be impacted.

I agree. There is a balance here. A certain level of foreign participation is considered acceptable, but if the level of foreign participation in primarily U.S. sports leagues came to be perceived as excessive, protectionist measures would be introduced.

Currently, USCIS basically defers to the professional sports leagues to decide who deserves a visa: If a big league team signs the player to a contract, he gets a visa (unless he's disqualified for some unrelated reason).

There's a nice breakdown of U.S. visas relating to foreign athletes here:
O-1 Visas

This visa is available to individual athletes of "extraordinary ability". To obtain an O-1 visa, athletes must demonstrate that they possess "a level of expertise indicating that they are one of the small percentage who have risen to the top of the field of endeavor." Examples of O-1 eligible athletes would be Wayne Gretzky, Ronaldo and Annika

P-1 Visas

Athletes who cannot meet the "extraordinary ability standard" required for an O-1 visa may petition for a P-1 visa. To qualify for a P-1 visa the athlete must show that he is internationally
recognized and is coming to the U.S. to participate in a league or event with a distinguished reputation. Athletes under contract with the NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS and NFL need only establish that they have a major league contract to qualify for a P-1 visa.

And regarding Golfers and Tennis players:
B-1 Visas

Professional athletes, such as golfers, tennis players and auto racers, who receive no salary or payment other than prize money from a tournament or sporting event are eligible for a B-1 visa, as business visitors.