Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ways to Grow the Game: No Sunday Games

In an ongoing attempt to find ways to make the CFL a larger, more successful professional sports league, I will be looking at ideas that can push the CFL to the forefront of pro sports in Canada and North America. I have titled these articles "Ways to Grow the Game."

When one thinks of Sunday, football usually does spring to mind. When it comes to the CFL, post-Labour Day, that should not be the case.

The CFL season runs from July to November. In 2010, the season started on Canada Day, and up to Labour Day there were only four games scheduled on a Sunday:
  • Week 1: BC at Edmonton
  • Week 2: Montreal at Edmonton
  • Week 7: Edmonton at Calgary
  • Week 10: Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
Following the Labour Day the weekend, the CFL has nine games scheduled for Sunday:
  • Week 11: Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
  • Week 12: Winnipeg at Toronto
  • Week 12: Edmonton at Montreal
  • Week 13: Edmonton at Toronto (in Moncton)
  • Week 14: Hamilton at Edmonton
  • Week 16: Winnipeg at Montreal
  • Week 16: Saskatchewan at Calgary
  • Week 18: Saskatchewan at BC
  • Week 19: Toronto at Montreal
So what does this have to do with growing the game, you ask? What gets going the week after Labour Day?

Yes, the NFL.

As much as many CFL fans say that the NFL is "boring" or "not as good as the CFL," it is still the league in North America.

Going up against the NFL on Sunday is not a good idea. Especially in Southern Ontario.

I'm not trying to say that the CFL should kowtow to the NFL, but when they play only four games on Sunday when they have no competition, I don't understand why they'd play nine when they have to go up against the biggest sport in North America.

What is my solution? Stop playing games on Sunday during the NFL season. A lot of people are football fans, not just NFL fans or CFL fans. I count myself as one of those, but I find it very hard to convince people to watch the CFL game over the NFL game, unless the Cats are playing.

If the CFL is going to play games on Sunday, do it before Labour Day. After Labour Day, cede Sunday to the NFL, and take Friday and Saturday. There are only four games a week, so a Friday night doubleheader and a Saturday afternoon or night doubleheader should not be too hard to schedule. This would allow people to watch all the CFL games in a given week without having to decide between the NFL and CFL.

You might wonder how I feel about playoff games. Those can stay on Sunday because playoff games carry more cachet with the public than, for example, a Week 13 game. The CFL will attract an audience for a playoff game that they will not attract for a regular-season game.

This idea is not likely to engender as much favour as my previous ones because this deals with something the league shouldn't do as opposed to something it should do. However, I stand by my stance that if the CFL would move away from Sunday games during the NFL season it would only help in growing the game.

1 comment:

  1. Fully agree with you Josh. The league's bread and butter is the gate, but it makes no sense to have televised games going head to head vs. the NFL. Friday-Saturday make a whole lot more sense, and you can easily play 2 and 2.

    But it can affect stadium attendance too. Remember back in the early 90s? One excuse for the Ticats' poor attendance (besides some of the gawd-awful teams) was the Blue Jays games. The Bills success during that period was thrown out there too.

    And take it one further and avoid conflict with the college schedules. Evening games on Saturday night are awesome - there's no "school day" afterward.