Jim Barker more Canadian than most Canadians !

I just don’t understand (Southern Ontario sports fans),? said Barker, who has worked in major U.S. colleges and has numerous contemporaries in the NFL. He is American-born, landed Canadian by choice, and the idolization Torontonians have with the NFL and America mystifies him.

“All the things about that league are very similar to what that country is about and why I choose to be here. The people here, they work to live, they don’t live to work. In the U.S. it’s about how much can I accumulate. It’s almost a money grab.

“Up here people truly want to head to the cottage. It’s more family oriented. They want to spend time together. The restaurants are packed on the weekend. That’s what people do in Canada. (In the U.S.) you hoard. How much money can I get. How big a house can I get. That’s what the NFL is — it’s all about getting more, getting bigger ... money. To me the CFL is about everything that I love about Canada.?

[url=http://www.torontosun.com/2011/07/06/cfl-mirrors-whats-great-about-canada]http://www.torontosun.com/2011/07/06/cf ... out-canada[/url]
[url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/CFL/Toronto/2011/07/06/18385541.html]http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/CFL/ ... 85541.html[/url]

Jim Barker looks into the stands at the Rogers Centre some game days and admits that he gets that empty feeling.

He doesn’t understand why more people aren’t looking back at him.

The Toronto Argonauts’ head coach and general manager hears people say they’d rather watch the National Football League, and he doesn’t understand.

Barker has heard all the reasons why the club sits in a market of 5.5 million people, yet draws few more than 20,000 a game: the team isn’t winning, there’s no roster stability, the players aren’t as good as in the NFL, there’s too much competition for the local sports dollar.

“Those are all just excuses,? says Barker. “Absolutely, we should have more than 20,000 fans at our games. I’m trying to understand why Southern Ontarians don’t like the CFL.?

If it’s roster stability fans want, they’ve got it with the return of stars like Cory Boyd and Chad Owens.

The infatuation with the NFL? “I don’t get it,? says Barker. “Is it just the betting? Maybe the NFL makes better office pools. I don’t know.?

As for that talent gap, it’s smaller, said Barker, than most people believe. “I just talked to an NFL guy ... Claude Wroten could go to the NFL today and be among the top five at his position. The athletes here are different,? said Barker. Inferior? Not always.

Trouble is anywhere east of Rainy River that’s a tough sell. The perception remains that CFL players aren’t as proficient. It is a hurdle Barker must overcome to sell the Argonauts as worthy of ranking with the Leafs, Raptors and Jays.

“What we have is special. We’re the only true Canadian professional sports league, yet people in southern Ontario refuse to grasp on to it for reasons I’m trying to understand,? said Barker. He points to the practice field at Mississauga’s University of Toronto campus.

“I don’t care what town you’re from, there’ll have been someone from that place who’s played in the CFL. We had a kid here at practice yesterday who played in the same junior program as (linebacker) Tristan Black. For him to be able to walk onto the practice field and say, ‘Wow, I’m playing in the same league he did and now he’s playing for the Argos!’ You can’t do that with the Raptors and Blue Jays.

“There’s no other pro sports organization where you can come to practice and afterwards talk to the players. There’s no league that’s as open as the CFL, no other team’s players are in the community as much as us.?

But all that fan-friendly, lovely-dovey attitude has gotten the Argos is ignored.

Barker has breathed life into the club on the field. Off the field? Pass the defibrillator.

As such the ultimate test of Barker’s legacy will be whether he can return the Argonauts to relevancy. ?I’d love to win Grey Cups but personally to have the Argonauts become part of the fabric of southern Ontario sports is just as important.

“I hear people say all the time ‘when I was a kid I remember my dad taking me to see the team at Exhibition Stadium.’ I want those people to take their kids to our games now; bring their kids to a practice to meet a player. Maybe I’m being idealistic. But what we have is special. It’s different.?

Too different for many Torontonians who insist on staying away.

“I think there was a time when being an Argo fan meant you had to stay in the closet. They would watch us on television but they didn’t want to say I love the Argos because it meant they weren’t chic enough. Maybe it still is like that.?

So, for Barker it’s all about putting the chic back. Just winning won’t be enough. Barker notes Toronto once had Doug Flutie and still the stands were half empty. Toronto didn’t recognize his true eminence until he went to the NFL.

“I just don’t understand (Southern Ontario sports fans),? said Barker, who has worked in major U.S. colleges and has numerous contemporaries in the NFL. He is American-born, landed Canadian by choice, and the idolization Torontonians have with the NFL and America mystifies him.

“All the things about that league are very similar to what that country is about and why I choose to be here. The people here, they work to live, they don’t live to work. In the U.S. it’s about how much can I accumulate. It’s almost a money grab.

“Up here people truly want to head to the cottage. It’s more family oriented. They want to spend time together. The restaurants are packed on the weekend. That’s what people do in Canada. (In the U.S.) you hoard. How much money can I get. How big a house can I get. That’s what the NFL is — it’s all about getting more, getting bigger ... money. To me the CFL is about everything that I love about Canada.?

Now if he could just find a way to spread that love. Eh?

…if I recall correctly though didn’t all those Bills games held in TO suffer from attendance too? perhaps it’s not that Southern Ontario dislikes the CFL, rather the folks there just dislike football period…

whatever the football audience is in S.Ontario, it is divided amongst the Argos, Tiger-cats, Bills, Lions and misc NFL teams.

if every one would follow the same team, or just the same league ( CFL ), i don't think attendance would be a problem.

but, who knows. maybe your right, redandwhite?

I find the title of this topic a little midleading. i didnt find him calling out fans as much as he was asking fans what it would take to get them to love the game like he does. im curious as well if that particular region is more of a hockey region... or just saturated with football. it was nice to see a coach actually come out and say "where are the fans?" i been waiting for a coach/gm/owner in ontario to come out and say something. i think there was a sense from barker that since last year... he was going to come out and say something like this.

.....Maybe the southern Ont. people are sick of looking at any of their local sports franchises and considering it a winner with any hope :roll:

...Maple Laughs.. :lol: The Jets will probably win a Cup before this outfit
...Blue Jays...won a couple of world series then went into hiding
...Raptors....a lack-lustre product
...Argos didn't do themselves any favours by bringing in count chockula a couple of seasons ago...although they seem to be getting back to repectability as of late

....Add it all up and you can see why 5 million southern Ont. people are getting a 'loser' complex...Maybe it's not the Argos but their general over-view of all professional sports local :roll:

i've mentioned this a few times, but it remains true;

argo tickets are overpriced.

price is supposed to be where supply meets demand, and that is not the case for the argos.
they price their seats as if they are as popular as the leafs.

45,000 seats and only 20,000 fans in the stadium, yet a huge tv audience should tell them something about ticket prices.

2 tickets at around the 50 yard line will run you about $160 ( not including parking and concessions )....not enough people will pay that, which is why the place is empty.
they need to find the price point that will FILL the place game in and game out. their current pricing is not it.

i'd like to see a what attendance would be if the 500 level was $10/ticket, 200 level was $25/ticket and 100 level was $35/ticket ..i think they'd fill it every game after a marketing campaign letting everyone know how affordable games are.

Interesting point and may be more than a little legitimacy to it. You should write to Braley. Seriously.

Bombers.....currently hold the longest Grey Cup drought in the CFL.
Jet.......the fans didn't support the team so they folded. Over a decade later Bettman pities them and is giving them a second chance.

those prices do seem a bit high. im not a math guy... and i have never been to skydome... but if you lower prices, and then get more people, what ammount of people would you need to make the same amount of cash as the 20,000 they have attend now. IIRC they play in skydome for free... but dont get money from consession, parking, beer, ect. correct me if i heard that wrong. if that is true, more fans, does not equal more beer or food money going towards the argos.

The last that I heard, the Argos were the only team in the league that had to pay rent. I'm not sure if that's still true or not.

then i was way off! oops.

Let's call it for what it is Toronto's downtown core is now mostly immigrants and they don't know the game and are probably not interested in Canadian Football or paying money to go see a live game. That's my take on it.

perhaps the argos should give away ticket on the upper levels. to new canadians as well, and maybe they will like the game. pay money to come again.

thats what needs to be figured out when they make new price points.
the argos are banging their heads against a wall at the current price points.

i guess the risk then becomes, if we lower the prices, have a huge add campain for the lower prices, and only an extra 500 people show up... then your in a deeper hole. a few years ago the argos gave deals to anyone in a life saving industry breaks. like soldiers, doctors, nurses, ect. they still do that?

i still think, with the amount of people in the GTA who watch the argos on tv week in and week out, that there will be alot more people going to games with the price points i suggested.

im curious how many people who watch the argos every week, go to ticketmaster.ca and see the current ticket prices and decide they'll stick to watching from their couch? only die-hards pay the current prices, and as we can tell, there are only 20,000 die-hards.

That's a ridiculous claim to make without any evidence to back you up. Seriously, guy, stop right there.

Ticket prices is why I decided to go to Hamilton in 2009 instead of Toronto. One great thing about the CFL is it’s affordable. Or it’s supposed to be. Of course, the Raptors also suffer from high ticket prices. I’ve wanted to go to a game for a few years, but there’s no way in hell I’m paying the prices they charge for a decent seat. Maybe it’s the inflated Toronto marker.

Not as ridiculous as it sounds. There was an article posted here awhile back about the athletes village being built in TO for the Commonwealth Games and how it would be turned into subsidized housing for the burgeoning immigrant population. You'd be surprised at the actual numbers that were in that article, maybe someone recalls it????