The Ratio...

I have been thinking about this for the past week or so now, and in lieu of Ken Peter's article in The Spec today, I thought I would share my thoughts and throw it out to all you Tiger-Cats/CFL fans.

I am starting to get the impression that the CFL rule that states teams must start 7 Canadians is becoming almost a hinderance. With increased competition for players from Arena football, and the numerous upstart football leagues trying to get off the ground, and the impending arrival of NFL football in Toronto, it seems like the ratio may hinder the CFL's chances for survival.

Now before you jump down my throat, I am referring to the fact that 7 Canadians have to start. I have no problem with the ratio of how many Canadians are on the overall roster of CFL teams.

I just feel like for the league to survive it should put the best players on the field regardless of nationality. I mean, the CFL will always be Canadian because they play by Canadian rules.

Ken Peter's article just furthered my beliefs because Tre Smith has to sit because of the ratio.

I guess what I am trying to say is, at what point does protecting Canadian players become more important than the overall quality of the play? Isn't higher scoring games and excitement what drives higher ratings and attendance thus increasing league revenue?

I know for me personally, I don't care what nationality my Hamilton Tiger-Cats are, I will cheer for them. I just find the starting ratio to be a hinderance to teams in today's CFL.

Just my thoughts on the matter. I would be interested in hearing all of yours.

  • paul

I don't really mind the ratio, but I can't believe that Tre is the best person to take out of the game. Is there not a better combination that does not involve Tre Smith coming out of the game. Seems like an odd choice to me.

thats rite tcfan, its How the H.C uses the ratio, ticats have to many imports on the Oline for one,who dont know how to pass block a yard off. and Setta is taking a traditional non import spot.yes he kicks a nice ball, but to high and he has been known to shank a punt or field goal imho smith in jo jon out

Professional teams in many sports have had
long time success as businesses despite the fact
that the best players in the world don’t play for them.

And the CFL is one of the best examples.

It Time they Drop the ratio From 7 to 5 Starting ...
It hard find Good Canadian Starters.

Yeah, I see your points, but I have just noticed over the past decade or so, coaches have used to ratio not to improve the team with Canadians or take advantage of Canadian depth, but just to put them in non-skill positions where they can't screw up as much.

Look at where they traditionally play. Offensive Guard, Centre, Interior Defensive Line, Safety, Fullback, and Receiver.

Receiver seems to be the only skill position coaches trust Canadians to play regularly. And even then it is usually to run underneath patterns where you don't need a terribly large amount of speed or they sit on the outside as a 4th or 5th read waiting for Defensive Backs to forget about them.

I guess I would just rather see the best players play. If there was a large talent pool of Canadian players to choose from then I would be more for it, but there just isn't enough quality Canadian players to go around that are ready to play right away.

Obie himself stated he will always start the absolute minimum amount of Canadians every game. What does that say?

  • paul

Would you really characterize the CFL as a business with long time success?

Ottawa has folded twice, Montreal once, and Hamilton and Toronto were in receivership. And that is all within the last 25 years. And I would be willing to bet half of the teams in the league lost money last year.

The truth is 90% of this league stars are American.

If the CFL wants to keep them in Canada they are going to have to grow this product, increase revenues, and pay them more. And having players miss games because of their passport and not their skill level just seems a little out-dated to me.

Football in North America is gaining a lot of momentum. If the CFL wants to stick their head in the sand and ignore the threat of the NFL, Arena Football, Arena Football 2, All-American Football League, United Football League, etc. from attracting their American players, then I am truly worried.

I am not trying to be dramatic at all, I just think the ratio might need to be addressed in the near future.

  • paul

I would think there is a lot of support for more imports per team from the coaches and management. Probably even some of the owners. However, they are probably afraid of being shouted down by the purists.
I am a staunch CFL and CFL rules supporter but I have maintained for years that there is not enough CFL calibre or quality depth from the available Canadian talent.
My solution has always been that instead of changing the present ratio. Change the wording of what qualifies a player as a non-import. Allow again (it was in the 60's) the veteran import players to become non-import after a (to be determined) number of years in the league.
Then if our amateur football expierences a population explosion they could be Grandfathered out again as they were before.
I believe it was done before because of money and the western teams not being able to keep up with the "naturelized Canadians" of the eastern teams.
But the rules have now changed from just being a "Canadian" to where you play your high school football, and if you live in Canada for 5 years before your 15th birthday etc. etc. So to tweak the rules to allow say 3 non-imports on your roster to be former imports who have played 5 years in the league seems a more fairer way to go then allowing someone who has lived 5 years in Canada but grows up in the States.
Allow 3 players per team with at least 5 years in the league. The if one of these players tries to hold the team up for a exsorbent salary (which happened in the past under the "Canadian only" system) he could be released and the next guy in line steps up.
IMO the league should look seriously at the ratio rules in the next contract with the CFLPA. Not the numbers but the wording.

I agree there probably aren’t enough quality Canadians being produced to fill seven starting positions for each team.

Dropping the affirmative-action ratio (that’s what this is, folks) down to six starters wouldn’t appreciably diminish the Canadian aspect of our league, but would bump the level of play up a bit and eliminate bad situations such as the Cats face this week.

Let’s face it, without naming names we’ve seen Canadians forced to start who have no business starting (or even playing pro football to begin with).

I really don't think removing moving from seven Canadian starters to five would make a noticeable difference to the onfield product. So you would probably start another American on the offensive line. Wow. People will be lining up for Hamilton season tickets for sure. We've seen the Cats start three, and it hasn't made much of a difference.

Just because the Cats this week are running into ratio problems, doesn't mean we should change the rules for the situation this week. After Marcoux went down, have the Cats done much to shore up their Canadian talent on the offensive line? All teams have to deal with the ratio and injury problems.

I agree with paully, I dont care how many Canadians are out there playing i just want to see good football. This is Canadas game, we play by Canadian rules and we play in Canada so i really dont know why people would care so much.

I care.
I think the ratio should stay at at least 7. Otherwise, the Americans who handle most of the teams administration wouldn't even bother scouting the CIS.

I do, however, think there could be some kind of exemption to allow some grace when it comes to injuries. A stroke of bad luck resulting 6 Canadians being injured shouldn't send the team spiraling down the standings because of ratio issues.

I don't know what the solution is...but there should be someway to keep it fair for all teams and ensure Canadian content in our league.

honestly though why do you care if there are canadians playing?

Ok, I am glad to see the other side of the argument.

So you feel the ratio should be kept at 7 because of a perceived bias by the American coaches in the CFL?

Can I ask if there are any other reasons as to why you care about the Canadian content in the CFL? I am honestly just asking. I like to know people's thinking on the subject.

It is important to note that a fair amount of the Canadian talent in the CFL is/was actually trained and developed in the U.S. Collegiate system.


I remember hearing the idea that "DoubleBlue" mentioned earlier back in the 1990's when the ratio issue came up in the media. I like the idea of allowing players like a Milt Stegall be considered non-import due to playing greater than 5 years in the CFL with one team continuously. It is an idea worth exploring.

I am all for increasing the quality of play in the CFL, that is what this discussion is based on. I feel like that is the best way for the CFL to survive in the future.

  • paul

I don't get how possibly reducing or eliminating the ratio will allow the CFL to attracted a bigger audience?

Although, the CFL has had its share for financial problems, it is still here, we are still talking about it, we are still going to games, we are still watching it on TV and it's currently in good shape.

Mark my words...the NFL will never come to Toronto. For so many reasons.

If we eliminate or reduce the ratio we are only eliminating or reducing those who will participate in football in Canada and thus potentially lowering the fan base.

Remember, I said the ratio with regards to how many start.

My opinion is based on the fact that 9 times out of 10, an American player is better than a Canadian player. So keeping that in mind, having more higher skilled players on the field would increase the quality of play. Ideally that would increase the excitement of the games as well and that would lead to more fans, more television dollars, higher attendance, and more money for the league.

I am no economist or prognosticator, that is just the way I have it figured out in my head. I operate on logic.

I am not sure how many Canadians participate in football on a per year basis, but the ratio has been the same for a long time hasn’t it? So it’s not like a recent spike in participation is due to it, is it?

Canadian collegiate athletes are students first, and I am sure a lot of them don’t view the CFL as a viable career. Which is the reason most of them have other jobs in the off-season. Some even retire from the CFL because their education makes them more money.

  • paul

I still like to see this
If American Players live in Canada year around
they Become a Canadian Citizen.
Be should be Class as Canadian by our rule book.
Tony Miles lives in Burlington Full time.
He married a Canadian Girl from Hamilton has Canadian Kids.

I Believe tony has Dual Citizenship

Why let these players play as Canadians.

If we eliminate or reduce the ratio we are only eliminating or reducing those who will participate in football in Canada and thus potentially lowering the fan base.
That's my thinking too, although I like the idea of allowing a 5 year CFL vet to be considered a Non Import.

I would think if you raised the ratio to only allow a handful of imports you would increase the fan interest. It would be great to see more local talent. It might look like College football for awhile, but having a better opportunity to land a football job after university might encourage more kids to play? Eventually Canadian university players would be as good as any in the world.

Heck, look how well the Canadians are doing at the Olympics. :roll:

See now I would be more willing to agree with your idea if our population base was larger and football was the sport with the largest participation in Canada. But the bottom line is the best athletes in Canada usually pick hockey first, and then soccer, with basketball, football, and baseball fighting over the rest.

There really is only two countries that participate in this kind of football. One has 300 million people with football being it’s #1a or #1b sport, and one has 30 million people with football being its #3 or #4 sport.

If they increase the ratio like you suggested hypothetically then I’d like to see the ticket prices go down about 1000% because most people wouldn’t pay what we pay now to see a quality level of low level American highschool football.

Because that is what it would turn in to.

I like a good healthy discussion on these forums though! Keep up the good work people!

  • paul

Because, its part of promoting and growing the game for Canadians. If a solid Canadian, playing at a CIS school isn’t even going to get a look-see from a league in his home country, then the drop off begins.

To me, its like anything else.
We live beside an enormous neighbour that loves throwing their weight around. Protection of sovereignty requires some protectionism. This is no different.

If we let this erode, its just like all the other homegrown things we’ve allowed to sell off. Then what are you left with?

I think that we’re close to the maximum number of CFL fans. Give or take a handful of thousand in each city. Decreasing Canadian content won’t make that number go up.

Legions of fans and Fantuz family members make the trek from Chatham to Hamilton and Toronto. Does that happen if his spot is taken by some dude from Florida?