3DownNation and the CFL Needs More of This

Hats off (or helmets off) to Ryan Ballantine over at 3DownNation for his insane comparison of CFL head coaches to various characters in HBO’s Succession.

I was at work on Sunday morning, actually trying to get something done, when I found Mr. Ballantine’s tight, bizarre and totally entertaining article.  The league needs more of this, even if it comes from a guy who is an admitted “lifelong Stamps fan” because, well, fuck the Stamps.

I decided to risk getting fired by setting aside the work I actually have to get done this morning in order to write a quick congratulatory post about 3DownNation’s weird but welcome approach to talking about the CFL.

I’m not sure if Mr. Ballantine has ever watched Succession, but every one of those fictional characters are dreadful despicable human beings, so the comparison to CFL coaches is, of course, spot on.

Next up, we need a comparison of CFL quarterbacks to the cast of Yellowstone, kickers to the cast of The Brady Bunch, long snappers to the cast of Schitt’s Creek and linebackers to the cast of Trailer Park Boys (especially that prick Simoni Lawrence).

(apologies to Mr. Lawrence; please don’t murder me.)

But I have a serious point to make here, one that I was coincidentally mulling over this fine Sunday morning as I drove past dilapidated and crumbling McMahon Stadium (where my son will be playing this Thursday for the Calgary Spring League Football city championship). 

On the cusp of another season of Canadian football, the CFL has done a crappy job of getting its product out there. Other than one little banner stapled to a rusty old chain link fence that keeps the riffraff out of the McMahon Stadium’s parking lot, the Stampeders have done little to publicize their home opener against the BC Lions (who suck).

Mickey Mouse leagues like the USFL and the XFL push their products into the broader consciousness, but the CFL appears to be shy about telling anyone it exists.  Money needs to be spent on promotion.

It’s the same with Canadian television products versus American television products.  Something like half the budget for a new American TV show goes to promotion and advertising, whereas promotion is regarded as an afterthought within the Canadian television industry.  But the question is:  who cares if you have a great product if no one knows it exists?

TSN has done a pretty decent job of making the league look big time, largely aided by the fact that the Canadian Football League is a big time league.  It is one of only two professional football leagues in the world that has existed for over a hundred years.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  The product is world class.  The only people who don’t know that are the people who don’t know what they are talking about. But ultimately, TSN can only do so much.  It’s just one network.

3DownNation had an article earlier in May entitled “Commissioner Randy Ambrosie believes CFL needs ‘more swagger’ in its promotion”. He’s right!

If only the CFL had someone who set priorities and had some control over the direction the league took as far as spending money.  We could call this person the “commissioner”, and one of his jobs could be to find ways to make the CFL grow.

And I don’t mean “grow” in the sense that we find jobs for Japanese kickers, Australian punters and German linebackers so they can take jobs away from Canadian boys who have devoted their young lives to making the Canadian Football League.

No, I would say that we would want a “commissioner” of our Canadian Football League to spend time expanding the profile of the league amongst people who might actually give a shit about the league, especially if they understood how great the product is. Does anyone seriously think that some guy in Düsseldorf is going to help our league expand?

TSN just had its CFC Prospects Game this weekend. That’s an annual high school all-star game whose footprint is growing exponentially due to someone named Lee Barette who had the idea to promote Canadian high school football, and individual high school players, on a national scale.  The CFL needs to get involved with this guy and this organization, and it needs guys like Mr. Barette (and everyone else over at CFC) who seems to be able to get stuff done.

Regionally and nationally, there are a number of organizations and events with which the CFL needs to associate. This summer, there is the Football Canada Cup and Western Showcase in Edmonton.  There are various “Selects” programs throughout the nation, many of which keep football alive over our long winter months touring the United States with various teams of different ages.

Locally, there are all sorts of minor and high school football leagues throughout the country with which the CFL needs to associate.  In Alberta, teams and programs like the Raymond Comets, Calgary Cowboys, St. Francis Browns, Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams, the Sherwood Park Rams and Harry Ainley Titans (Remember the Titans!) should be welcomed into the CFL family with promotional and advertising links.

We can’t forget about the Canadian Junior Football League, an incubator of future university and professional football talent, or just a place to play for good young players who want to extend their involvement in serious football after high school.

And then there is Canadian university football, which, every year, is producing better and better players at a higher and higher level. I understand there needs to be a solid line between amateur university sports and professional sports, but the CFL could do a better job of linking up with the university programs.  The Simon Fraser fiasco is a symptom of the poor relationship between university and professional football in Canada. One cannot even imagine a major US college football program going under like that.

These organizations are chalk full of people who love football, and specifically Canadian football. And oddball articles from creative minds like Mr. Ballantine over at 3DownNation, who also loves Canadian football, are all part of a promotion system that could build the CFL and Canadian football in ways that no one is thinking about right now (at least not in any systemic or organized fashion).

And as for the whole CFL coach/Succession comparison analysis, obviously Chris Jones would be Logan Roy.  C’mon now.

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