Ratio ...in game

Its been brought up before but never really answered.

CFL requires a minimum of 7 Canadians on the field per team between offense and defense.
How do officials keep track in game? I've never seen it called if a team veers off the track on maintaining this. Do they keep track and enforce the ratio?

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I would assume that the off-field officials, possibly the scorekeeper, keep track of that, and it's probably some sort of illegal substitution called from upstairs.

Do keep in mind that most teams start 16 Americans (not counting the QB) so there are only 4 American subs.

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lot of assumptions there

I have asked this question several times but it has also never been answered. My take is that no one really knows, including all on air personalities, who do no more than mention it in passing. We can all read the rule and know what it says but its application remains a mystery.

I have never seen a ref pull out a notebook and check the amount of Canadians on the field or count them. I have never seen a flag for too many Americans. I can’t accept that throughout the history of the league every single team on every single play has never violated this rule. Yet, no flags or fines even that I am aware of.

My conclusion is that the rule is window dressing and there mainly for optics. If anyone knows different or is aware of any penalties for violating this rule I would be interested in hearing about it. The penalties would have to be on field to make this rule have any meaning.

I don't have the answer but I suspect the easiest way is to monitor the substitution of the 4 designated imports.. after the starting lineup is submitted pregame..

When any of them go in, another import must come out unless it's a special teams play. So 3rd down doesn't have to be monitored unless the offensive team lines up for something that doesn't suggest a kick.

so are you saying special teams are not required to have Canadians.?

While this might be the easiest way to monitor it, perhaps along with reporting substitutions to the side judge, which I gave also never seen, why has there never been an on field penalty or sanction for a violation of the rule in the history of the game?

In the technological era we now live in we could also give an official a scanner and the players some kind of plastic passport that could be scanned that would reveal their nationality. (Just kidding) This suggestion highlights the overall silliness of the rule.

This is what I understand...the ratio does not apply to special teams

The majority of special teams players appear to be Canadians.

That's because the majority of non-starters are Canadians, and usually offensive and defensive starters don't play special teams


That's the irony.. where the rules do not apply we end up with the most Canadians for the reasons Rougegod mentioned

so nobody knows

Someone once said that games without rules are meaningless. I would add that not enforcing a rule makes it meaningless. I have seen no evidence that the ratio rule is enforced and therefore I conclude that it is meaningless and that there is a good argument that it be trashed.

On the pro side, I believe the impetus for the rule is to promote Canadian players and in turn Canadian football at the University and grass roots level. Laudable goals, to be sure.

On the con side, the rule does nothing to enhance the quality of the game. Clearly there are many non Canadian players that are better than Canadian players. There are some Canadian players that would still be able to play in the CFL without this rule, but not many I would argue. I would prefer to see the best players possible on the field. The game would be of even higher quality. I don’t associate the “Canadian” in CFL with the fact that there are forced Canadian starters, but rather with unique features of the game such as 3 downs, a wider, longer field, a mystery clock and bad kicking.

I am also not a big fan of misguided protectionism anywhere. The best should be allowed to play or be employed, etc. Not a fan of the Don Cherry “Chicken Swede” philosophy. Imagine if the NHL limited the amount of non Canadians on rosters. We would be deprived of seeing some better hockey players from other countries because of an artificial ratio. No one accuses the NHL of being anti Canadian because they allow the best hockey players in the world to play in the league. On the contrary, they would likely face lawsuits if they didn’t. Allowing the best players to play, in my opinion, only enhances the game and in no way makes it less Canadian.

Finally, the definition of “Canadian” is dubious to begin with. It has evolved over time. I don’t know all of the iterations offhand but I believe at one time that players had to be born in Canada. There are other qualifiers such as parents born here and attending a Canadian college. Pretty soon a potential player will be considered “Canadian” if they rode the Toronto subway once with their third cousin.

In short, the ratio rule is a silly rule that is not enforced, is prejudicial in nature and prevents the best available players from playing in the league. I, for one, as a proud Canadian, am not afraid of international competition in anything and see no reason why the CFL should be. The ratio rule is an anachronism that is way past its best before date.

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So, here's how I understand it, based on reading this page.

A team has a maximum of 20 American players (ignoring QBs for a second). Of those 20 players, four are "designated Americans" - who can only come on the field to replace another American.

So now do the math. 24 starters, 1 is a QB. At most 16 can be American (since four of the Americans are Designated Americans). So the remaining 7 players will be Canadian.

How is it enforced? If a Designated American comes on the field, an American must come off. If a "starting American" comes on the field, the designated American that replaced them must come off.

The "Down Judge" is the one that enforces this.

So, here's a question. What if one (or more) of your starting Americans could play both offence and defence? Could you replace an injured Canadian with that starting American? Presumably you could.

Don't they wear a patch or a helmet sticker that indicates whether they are Canadian or not?

Yes, that is legal

Not that I am aware of but that would be one way to assist in identifying them.

There was a ratio violation when Chris Jones was the HC for the Riders.

(insert your Chris Jones joke here)

Game officials are suppose to monitor the designated imports but missed it at the time. Penalty would have been 25 yards had they noticed. Riders were fined $15,000 3 weeks later.