Friday, 25 November 2011

Changes Needed for the CFL Player Awards

Last night, the CFL handed out their Player Awards, and while it was a special night for all the players who were honoured, there are aspects of the process that are archaic and should be changed.

For starters, the process for selecting nominees is outdated. Team nominees are voted on by a small cadre of writers from a team's home city, as well as the Head Coach. Back when the game was more regional and it was hard for people to see each team, this made sense. But for the past few seasons, all 72 games have been broadcast on TSN, and then archived on TSN's website. Anyone who wants to watch every game can do so rather easily. The days of people in Vancouver not being able to watch games played in Montreal are over, and have been for some time.

Yet the league still relies on this antiquated model for deciding who is up for the league's awards. The outcry that followed Anthony Calvillo's selection for Alouettes' MOP over Jamel Richardson, thus making Richardson ineligible for the league award, shows that people outside of Montreal were paying attention. Voters in the seven other markets are just as qualified to speak on who the best Alouette is as they are the best Argonaut or Eskimo. Matt Dunigan even complained about the process when he wondered why he was asked to vote for the league-wide awards, but had no say on the team awards. Like most people, Dunigan follows the league, not just one team. I'd think that the majority of people who are interested in the CFL have an interest beyond their local market.

The system has outlived its usefulness, and changes need to be made. For one, teams really do not need to nominate players for the awards. It makes for some nice stories and gives people something to talk about and debate, but it is unnecessary. Instead, the league should hand an open ballot to the same people who vote on the awards and let them choose who they want. If the league then wants to cut the list down to two finalists who will show up at the awards ceremony, that's fine, but someone like Richardson should not be ineligible for an award because a small group of Montreal reporters decided Anthony Calvillo should be the team's nominee.

The next change is about the announcement of the winners. TSN shows every CFL game, yet instead of airing the awards show live, they aired the 1986 Rob Lowe movie Youngbloods, while TSN2 showed a replay of last week's West Division Final and a repeat of Off the Record. TSN will air the awards ceremony on Saturday, but everyone already knows who won and TSN has already posted a plethora of awards-related videos on their website. Putting the show on Saturday is meaningless since the hardcore fans who would watch an awards show already know who won. The league needs to ensure that the awards ceremony is aired live. Otherwise, there really is no point in airing the show at all.

These are a couple of changes that would benefit the awards. Hopefully the ideas here become a reality in the not-to-distant future.

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