I really wish there was more variety from year to year in the CFL's game scheduling. Some variety appears to be on its way soon, with the likely addition of the Atlantic team into the league. But beyond that, two examples come to mind.
One, for the last several years, I've been going to the last Rider home game of the regular season. More often than not, the opponent is Edmonton. If not Edmonton, then pretty much guaranteed it's a West Division team. As much as I love to hate the Eskimos, and take particular delight when the Riders win that game, why can't the last game be against, I don't know, Ottawa for once? Then maybe Hamilton the next year? And so on.
Two, and this I'll admit will likely be an unpopular opinion, aside from the almighty "tradition," (cue the song from Fiddler On The Roof), why does the Labour Day game ALWAYS have to be against the same team? And why is it ALWAYS a back to back, home and away series with that same team the following week? Why can't the LD game be the rematch of the two? And why can't the other of the traditional pairings host the LD game sometimes? Why can't any of the other 7 teams in the league ever show up on that day? Some people only ever go to the LD game. Isn't it boring to always see the same opponent?
Ideally you play someone in your own division the last game of the season because it generally has a chance to mean more. If you are picking one game....why not simply go to a different one if you are sick of the Esks?
The LDCs and rematch are very popular....so yes, they are going to cater to the masses. They changed the formula years ago and received a lot of backlash. These games are beset in huge tradition with fans setting up events annually for decades...why on earth would you want to mess with that...horrible.
I have mixed feeling about back to back games. If you happen to catch a team when they are on a roll and playing with huge confidence compared to somebody else in your division who might play back to back games at a different point in the season against that same team back to back when a team is struggling a bit or has key injuries - that can have a huge impact on standings.
For example in Premier League soccer all 20 teams have one home and away game with the other 19 teams. They play one of those games in the first half of the season and one in the second half of the season. Never playing a team back to back. I think that is fairer.
The Cats schedule is loaded with back to backs this year. Right now (albeit with a bye week for the Cats in between) we have 2 in a row with the Riders. Labour Day and 5 days later 2 in a row with the Argos. September 22 and 29 home and away with the Lions. October 19 and 27 home and away with the Redblacks.
I don't like a schedule with that many back to back games.
Generally speaking, sports fans like predictability. Knowing that Toronto will play at Hamilton and then Hamilton will play at Toronto the week after - and that it happens practically every year - is a major boon to ticket sales. Few ticket purchasers are giving the feedback of "surprise me" when it comes to team matchups.
The Labour Day weekend matches are a long-standing tradition.
Can they be changed?
Should they be changed?
Well, the tradition has merit in setting up the season for the post-Labour Day drive to the playoffs. So it serves as something of a marker.
The NFL has the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys always hosting the day games on U.S. Thanksgiving.
Why? Just tradition.
As for the back-to-back scheduling...in a schedule where most teams meet only twice per year, roster changes, field and weather conditions, time in the season (accumulated fatigue for players deeper into the season), injuries, all factor into success against any opponent. Having those two opponents meet at the same time in the season largely negates any of those factors.
I would prefer to see teams meet at different points in the season.
Ah, but the NFL Lions and Cowboys don’t always host the same team on that weekend for 50 years in a row. And a third American Thanksgiving game has been added to the schedule in recent years, with the league quite intentionally not having any of the same teams play in it from year to year. That’s what I’d rather see. Why can’t it be Calgary in Regina one year, and Regina in Toronto the next? I think the tradition of having CFL games in general on that weekend is more important than which teams are playing where.
The reason why I have ended up consistently going to the last regular season game of the year is because I’m a regional co-ordinator for the Football Sask Pass Punt & Kick Competition. The provincial winners of the PPK are presented with plaques honouring their achievement during the pregame ceremonies of that game. In return for volunteering to organize and run the regional PPK in my area, Football Sask & the Riders give me and my fellow regional co-ordinators across the province a ticket to the game. I love helping to promote the sport of football through the PPK, and I really am grateful for the opportunity to attend the game. I would just like to see different opponents more frequently than is generally currently the case, that’s all.
Last year's Ti-Cats were a perfect example of where back to back games would be totally different kettle of fish depending on whether or not you were lucky emough to get the Cats back to back in the first half of the season.
Those teams were likely licking their chops. Totally different for anybody who may have had back to back games in the last half of the season - when they were actually a decent football team.
That's why I think a balanced schedule with few back to backs tends to be a fairer one for that season.