Too many eggs in the CFL basket!

It's becoming something of a tradition at the start of recent seasons, for the Tigercats to end up losing hard fought contests and commence struggling for the rest of the season. I've routinely read the analysis in the past in the sport pages, which trundled a succession of headlines, such as:

" Crisis looming! /Can the Cats save the season? / Cats in desperate crisis!!/ Why did the Cats fail and how can they become successful?"

(Prior to the arrival of Bob Young, it was more a matter of: Can the Hamilton Tigercats survive?)

Even after two defeats this season, I heard a TV commentator talk of a possible crisis looming in Hamilton. Now, after three defeats, I'd like to address this problem of teams facing ever mounting pressure so early in the season, if they start with a losing streak. ( bearing in mind that if the Cats were winning, then some other team may be in a losing streak.)

Firstly, this is a CFL problem, which at this time is also, potentially, an ongoing problem for the Tigercats. Secondly, success is crucial for the CFL and all its teams. At this time Ottawa is steeped in crisis and the return of football to Ottawa is possible, but not certain. Also, it's not so long ago that the Argos and the Cats were struggling to survive after disappointing seasons.

In the CFL, as with the NFL, teams play for play off positions, then compete in knockout games to reach the Grey Cup/ Superbowl. Both leagues use variations of this structure. The overwhelming difference between the two leagues is financial. I imagine that one team in the NFL has a bigger budget the all CFL teams combined. Why is affluence important? The NFL is a hugely successful sports business operation. Therefore, if a team gets in trouble, the whole of the NFL is healthy/wealthy enough to take corrective measures.

The CFL could not rescue and sustain the Ottawa team this year. The league is simply not affluent enough to do that. So, instead of concentrating on expansion, the League has lost a team and seeks stable ownership.

Stable ownership is clearly vital to the success of all CFL teams. (Where would the Cats be now, without a patient and enterprising owner in Hamilton?) However,I believe the CFL could do much more allieviate the stress and potential for disaster of a team having a awful losing streak.

THE CFL HAS ALL OF ITS EGGS IN ONE BASKET. Everything is played for the Grey Cup. However, lose 17, like Hamilton did a couple of years ago and EVERYTHING"S GREY and the team, and its fans are utterly dejected. Crisis is upon us!

I believe that THE CFL COULD FOSTER GREATER STABILITY AND SUCCESS, IF IT CHANGED ITS FORMAT. I'm advocating elongating the season somewhat. I think the CFL should consider having an early season cup. I propose that Canada day would be an excellent date to showcase and celebrate Canadian football.
There's nothing wrong with celebrating it twice a year!

There are a number of possible formats which could be uesed for this new cup competition. I favour a home and away round robin series within each conference ( because there would be less travelling, games could be scheduled closer together). Thereafter, there could be a final game between the top East team and the top West team. Alternatively, there could be a Eastern Cup and a Western Cup, giving two finals on Canada Day.

I'm not an expert scheduler, but I imagine that the season would commence around the middle of May to get those eight round robin games in (in a ten team league). As I mentioned, travel and time change would be much less with intra conference play).

There is potential for more sponsorship revenue for the CLF and further TV contracts, as well as more club revenue. May has crowd friendly weather and great football playing conditions. THe clubs could also probably enjoy the opportunity to start the first six weeks with a longer roster, allowing them to try out new players more effectively.

How would this proposed new format help a team which started with a losing streak? Firstly, after Canada Day, all the teams would start with a clean sheet. In a five team conference (For example), Hamilton would play eight games in this "Canada Day" Cup competition. This new early season format would allow the coaching staff to try different personnel or tactics, or fine tune and persevere. They could do so without the intense pressure which they contend with under the present format. Also, if they don't make the final or one of the finals on Canada Day, they would probably have a week to ten days to prepare for the Grey Cup campaign.

So: an early season cup competition! Conference rivalries would be sharp. The fans would be excited and entertained. Interest in the early season would be raised considerably. There would have to be some scheduling changes to get the games in for the Grey Cup. Perhaps there's room to lengthen the season by having the Grey Cup a little later. The Grey Cup would still be THE PRIZE, to sustain it's long and distinguished history. However, that could be upheld, but positive changes could also take place.

All in all,, I believe that changes along these lines would benefit the CFL by improving revenues and team prospects for football success and stability.



you've been watching too much soccer

I think it could work under two conditions:

  1. If the ball were round;

  2. See number 1. :wink:

Not that I wouldn’t mind the Cats winning the Ballard Cup by the end of August some year by a scheduling fluke…:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Oski Wee Wee,

Hi Studedude:

You appear to be advocating two seasons in one, if I'm reading you right. The 1st half of the season (up to Canada Day) would feature intra conference play only and supply trophies to each conference.
Following this, the entire CFL would play and the prize at the end would be the Grey Cup. Have I got this right?

Yes Rocky, you have got it right, although, I'd classify it as one football season, which includes two distinct competitions.

After the intra conference round robin play, there could be two cup finals, which would be fought out by the top two teams in each conference.


I believe there is great marketing potential on both sides of the Border. Conceivably, a six week competition in May and June could prove to be very popular with many American football fans.
It's our game, but the more they watch it, the richer and more secure our game will become.

In Canada, the excitment generated by that additional competition would fill seats, increase TV ratings, create a real buzz with young (life blood of the future) football enthusiasts and give all of us more Canadian football games to watch. That longer season would increase player incomes, while enhancing the financial prospects of all CFL teams. Also, if there's two cups a begging, then there's more silverware to share around!

In another "small market" country called Scotland, they play with that "round ball" in four separate competitions (as well as European tournaments for some of the top teams), during their nine month football (soccer) season.

The length of that season has been stretched over the years. Incidentally, there are more teams playing in the Scottish leagues now, than there was forty years ago. Clearly, they haven't put all their wee eggs in one basket!

There used to be two Canadian football teams in Hamilton (and also in Toronto) and now there is only one. There isn't a team in Ottawa and wasn't in Montreal for many years. I'm not sure just how secure Canadian football is at present.

I'd like to see the CFL experiment with a longer season and something akin to this "Canada Day Cup" I've suggested.

If it proved to be unsuccessful, then they could simply change back to the old scheme. Indeed, they can revert back easily, with much greater speed and much greater ease, than they did after the abject and expensive failure of that American expansion. Now, there was one radical idea!

I like your concept, especially since it includes keeping our Grey Cup and continued play outside each conference in the latter half of the season.
I can see how this would save the league money and make most of the games in the season's first half akin to 4 pointers.

After Canada Day, CFL football would get even more interesting as it would also encompass the Western Conference andeventually, the coveted Grey Cup.

The season would have to get off to an early start to get 8 0r 9 games in by Canada Day.

How would you convince the CFL that this idea is worth trying?

Rocky, you asked: "How would you convince the CFL that this is an idea worth trying?"

Decision making in the CFL is made by the Board of Governors. Bob Young is now the vice-chairman of the CFL Board of Governors. He is in a strong position to influence fellow governors. As I undertand it, Bob Young is also an avid reader of these Tiger-cat forums. We are very fortunate to have an owner who listens to grass root opinion.

Ideas stand or fall on their merits. If Bob reads these particular posts, I trust that he'd give the proposal due consideration, before deciding to investigate it further, or reject it as unrealistic.

However, in the short term, Bob, as with all Tigercat staff and fans, is likely predominately focused on beating Montreal in the coming game, winning a play off spot, one game at a time. That's how it is and how it should be. Long term decisions can bide their time on the back burners.

Rocky, it's good to hear from someone who thinks the proposal could possibly work. I'd hope this discussion continues and develops, with comments for or against this proposal.

I find it an interesting idea, but the bad part of this is that our players are human. Remember Allen, who was injured (unintentionally, I should think) in the first series of the first game.

We don't have the finances to pay additional (quality) players.

Other than that, it's a great idea.

I don't like it. Teams (and organization) should work hard all season for one goal and one goal only, the Grey Cup. If a team is losing, tough, revamp your team next year and give it another shot.

A midseason championship will not only take away thunder from the Grey Cup it will also play like a pre-season championship, especially with the idea that after it teams start with a 0-0 record.

What's next, we give the players yellow ribbons for participation?


                 You're obviously in favour of the status quo. As I mentioned at the start of this thread, I believe that the present system is inherently destabilising. If a team loses its first 3 or 4 games, that team feels the heat big time. If the losing streak continues, we're into  "Coach's Cauldron", as the pressure mounts on the coaching staff and the players. By September, a team could be out of contention for the playoffs. It's happened before and it's never been pretty. In Hamilton, failed seasons have precipitated several desperate fights for Tiger-cat survival in recent years.

Continuity is good for a CFL team, while major re-vamps, year in and year out are patently not. Football teams are extremely complex organisms and good football teams take a lot of intricate building for the present and the future.
It's tremendously difficult to give a developing quarterback time on the field under the present league set up. If we had something akin to this Pre-season cup, there would be more chance for CFL coaches to bring on the young players, particularly quarterbacks. I earnestly believe that Damon Allen and Anthony Calvillio would not have been discarded by Hamilton, if they'd had the opportunity to develop in a format which had a longer season incorporating two cup competitions. Those superb quarterbacks slipped through the Tiger-cat's claws, in part because the pressures and necessity for success, which are a by-product of the present CFL league format.

Roughyfan, you stated:

"If a team is losing, tough, revamp your team next year and give it another shot." The Ottawa Renegades failed to make the play-offs ever, during the team's five year resurrection. CFL team need to survive to be able to "give it another shot"! The Renegades were unable to re-establish themselves in the CFL under its present playing format. While a change in the CFL format would not guarantee team survival, I believe it would create better conditions for stability, success.

I like the origional idea but what about this tweak--down here in all the minor league baseball leagues they split the season into two halves--then at the end of the year the playoff qualifers from BOTH halves go to an end of year playoffs that in CFL talk would end up with the final two in the GREY CUP,,the logic in this approach when it was started was to keep fan interest high because if your team went in the tank the first half you still could qualify for the playoffs by having a good second half--and each year this DOES end up happening in some of the leagues

The basic assumption of this topic is quite correct - namely that the CFL is unstable as a business model.

I really like the creativity of the suggestions here, even if I'm not sure they will work - at least you are suggesting something different.

The quick way to challenge your critics is never to defend your idea, but to insist that if they don't like yours then they need to suggest an alternative.

Here's mine: The NFL works because so much of the league's total revenue is collected by the central league office. So even when the Arizona Cardinals don't make the playoffs for a decade the team is not remotely in danger of folding.

We need to drive much more of the corporate sponsorship revenue of the CFL through the league office to be split 8 ways (or 9, or hopefully someday 10).

As it is the league distributions to each team are lower today than they were in Jake Gaudaur's last year as commissioner - in 1983!

Vuarra, you raise an excellent point. Football players are prone to injury; it's an extremely tough sport. If the number of games played was increased, then so too would the number of injuries. Could a football team sustain itself through a season lengthened by one month / eight games? Well, they certainly would benefit from carrying slightly larger rosters.

At present, there are only eight teams participating in the CFL. An early season home and away round robin would entail six games, plus the Canada Day final. If the CFL were to experiment with this additional "Canada Day Cup"
Competition, they could try the following:

Based on the eight team, four to a conference format, the round robin would be six games. All six of a team's games would tally towards the so called Canada Day Cup. Let's say that the top team from each conference would compete on Canada day for the cup. These round robin games would commence sometime in May. Games 4, 5 and 6 in the round robin could also count as the first three games in the Grey Cup campaign. On that basis, the Grey Cup campaign would commence around about its usual time.

Apart from the brief pause for a about five days either side of the Canada Cup game, things would not change all that much, as far as the Grey Cup schedule is concerned.

So, this additional tournament could be incorporated into the CFL season with teams playing only three additional games (four games for the finalists). When the CFL finally (hopefully) expands to ten teams, that would entail an eight game round robin prior to Canada day, with game 5,6,7and 8 counting towards the Grey Cup schedule.

Personally, I think an early season tournament would be profitable. Travel costs would be minimised by intra-conference round robin play. Stadiums would be close to full. Breweries, among others would compete to sponsor this Canada day Cup competition.. There would be additional revenue from domestic TV contracts. Aslo, this cup competition which would last about six weeks could be successfully marketed across the US. Arena football comes to a head at the end of May, so a Canada Day Cup competition could be just the nourishment required for football loving Americans. If that proved to be the case, this Canada Day cup could become quite lucrative for the CFL. It could bolster CFL coffers as well as further developing viewing interest in the existing CFL schedule on the other side of the border. Basically, I think teams could well afford to hold onto a few more players and still be better off financially by adopting this twin cup approach.

Wow !,thats a interesting ,but disturbing fact Bob!

They have to be able to do better than that,Wow.

Bob: Surprised to hear you say League disbursements are actually less now esp given all talk over past few years about increased sponsorship etc.

But point is correct.

CFL's major problem has always been that it it is a gate-dependent League -- up to 75% of revenue comes that way.

Teams, esp the community ones, look to all kinds of local or specific sponsorship to keep them out of red. In Regina and Winnipeg, they struck naming rights deals for stadiums. They'd be all for increased League sponsorship if it didn't impact them locally. Say, by having a nat'l beer sponsor which means they'd lose their deal with competitor.

There's only two ways to lessen dependence on gate. First, as you said, increase the dollar amount League sponsorship. Second, get a more lucrative TV deal. Nothing CFL gets with either would ever come close to what NFL gets.

Still, increases in those dollars mean less panic about attendance figures.

Oh, and to original poster's extremely thought out plan -- methinks League would find that too radical.

Lengthening the season already upsets some people who think it shouldn't start until CD period or even ibn August.

I think for anything such as what you propose to work would mean having the League on far more stable footing for several years to even risk it.

I find pre-season boring already and to lengthen the pre-season and play for a championship after it would just prolong that in my opinion. The Grey Cup is what matters in the CFL, and as a fan, I like watching the meaningful games that count towards the Grey Cup.

As far as lengthening the season, I can’t see the CFLpa being in favour of that. The CFL already plays a longer season than their NFL counterparts and an 18-21 game season has to be tough on the body of a football player. I’m sure they need all of the off-season to recuperate.

As far as Calvillo and Allen being discarded by Hamilton, that is up to the coaching staff to be the judge of talent during training camp and the first two pre-season games. It’s the same for all teams and thus fair. Again seeing 6 games so coaches can judge talent does not appeal to me in the least as a fan. I see enough of second, third, and fourth-string players in the two pre-season games already.


Thank you for your comments. In presenting these ideas, premises and prescriptions in this forum, I have hoped for constructive criticism from others. I have outlined a number of what I consider to be critical flaws in the modus operandi of the CFL, as it’s presently configured. It takes several readings and much debate to fashion the laws of this country, so I’m not really sure that the quickest way is always the best, even when it comes to other less weighty aspects of our lives. I think that there’s often merit in clarifying one’s explanation. Yes, it’s sensible to choose your battles, but I’d never say “never” to defending my viewpoint. While an insistence on alternative solutions is good advice, an idea, like a thesis should be dissected and defended with rigour to determine its validity.

It seems that we both agree that the NFL is financially robust. It can and does provide a safety net for struggling franchises. As far as our CFL game is concerned, I’d add the word " inherently ": that the CFL is inherently unstable as a business model. I’ve already presented some reasons why , which relate to the present concentration of eggs in one basket. I’ve also presented something of a prescription in the form of an elongated tournament.

You have suggested something different:

that "We need to drive much more of the corporate sponsorship revenue of the CFL through the league office to be split 8 ways (or 9, or hopefully someday 10). "

It’s that familiar tale of central authority versus local autonomy. That more revenue should go centrally to the CFL and thereafter be distributed in a manner which creates more equitable financial stability across the league. I don’t think it’s a new concept, but it makes good business sense to me. A sensible revenue sharing agreement would provide something of a safety net for struggling teams. It would also lay a sound foundation in favour of expanding to Halifax (for instance).

What’s not clear to me is this: Are you implying that there’s enough sponsorship revenue out there, but it’s just unevenly distributed or that the CFL also needs a further injection of new revenue?

Let’s go with the premise that the CFL would benefit from increased sponsorship revenues. If that’s the case, then why hasn’t the CFL attracted more sponsorship? Businesses naturally wish to associate themselves with top class sporting organisations. There are certainly a number of things that presently make the CFL less attractive to potential sponsors. Here’s three reasons why:

There appears to be an ongoing frictional relationship between recent CFL commissioners and the Board of Governors. That makes for gridlock, uncertainty, poor decision making and many pages of bad press. Even before you get to the football field, the CFL is a questionable product.

Already this millennium, we’ve had four teams go through dire straits. One team has been decommissioned. Often, when a CFL team struggles, it implodes. Owners go, GMs go, Coaches go. The press have a field day, leaving an aura of negativity in their wake. When the largest proportion of Canada’s population lives in and around the Golden Horseshoe, it a disaster for the CFL in terms of attracting sponsors. Companies don’t want to associate with failure or the negativity that abounds locally when a franchise falters.

The CFL season lasts only five months, which is a limitation in itself. During that time there’s essentially that one Grey Cup product. Picture the CFL next to English professional County cricket, where a team may play in three distinct competitions in the course of one week, each sponsored by different organisations. Clearly, it’s not as physically demanding as CFL football, but 50 years ago, teams played one five day game a week. From my experience, there’s opportunity for increased sponsorship of CFL if it’s willing to diversify its activities.

I don’t think our approaches are mutually exclusive. The CFL does need a larger, more equitably divided revenue stream. However, to achieve that, it also should address its other inherent weaknesses.