Sunday, 12 December 2010

Three Questions: Canadian Football League

The off-season is underway and it is not just the teams that face questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Canadian Football League.

Will there be a Touchdown Atlantic II?
I would stunned if there wasn't. Rumours have been out there for a while that the 2011 Touchdown Atlantic game will be between the Tiger-Cats and Stampeders. I can't see a reason why the league won't play a game in Moncton in 2011.

What do record TV numbers mean?
The CFL is in the midst of a popularity surge not seen since Russ Jackson was slinging passes and winning MOPs. While attendance was down, TV numbers were way up. More people watched the CFL on TSN than any other sport, including hockey. The league's deal with TSN does not expire for another couple of years, but I can imagine that if this upward trend continues, a television windfall – the likes of which the CFL has never seen – could be in the offing. Like the wrestling boom of the late 1990s, it's now cool to like the CFL.

What effect will a possible NFL lockout have?
The most important question facing the CFL in 2011 might actually have nothing to do with the CFL. Anyone who watches the NFL knows that there is a very real possibility that they are headed for a work stoppage – likely a lockout – in 2011. I doubt we'll see a glut of NFL players head to Canada to try and ply their trade; the latest CFL CBA all but guarantees that. But what will Americans do to get their football fix? Yes, they will still have college football, but the other pro leagues that operate in the US (Arena Football, UFL) hardly do big numbers. Fans have not gravitated towards those leagues. I also find it intriguing that NFL Network aired CFL games this past season. Could another deal be struck to play CFL games on NFL Network? Could NFL Network look at airing every CFL game to fill the hours of programming they'll need to fill with no NFL? It wouldn't surprise me in the least. An NFL work stoppage might do for the CFL what American expansion never could.

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