With the nail in the coffin on the 2020 season, CFL fans have turned their attention to the 2021 season and beyond.
As of right now, the fate of the CFL sits in the palm of the hand of COVID-19. Should the disease last long enough, it could possibly be the thing that kills the CFL. That’s one scenario. The one that none of us want to see, but it remains a possibility.
Let’s describe the most ideal situation for CFL fans. June rolls around and fans are back in the stadium. The stands are jammed full of screaming and maskless fans. The players are back on the field and we are watching football with very little fear or worry about COVID-19, it’s in the past now and we don’t have to think of it anymore. This is another scenario. The more favourable one, but possibly out of reach without a working vaccine.
Then there is what looks like the most reasonable solution for the CFL right now. It’s not them coming all the way back, but it will allow them to have a season and continue to be around during this pandemic.
In my guess, the season is going to start with reduced capacity crowds and with spectators wearing masks. As the season goes on and restrictions loosen, that could change. Keep in mind, I am certainly not an expert on this kind of thing, but unless there is a working vaccine, it doesn’t seem reasonable to pack a stadium to the brim. There are too many lives at risk to have that happening.
Even if the crowds are at 50 per-cent capacity, we will have football back. For the die-hard fans of the CFL, this will be like a rebirth. A league that once, just 10 months earlier, looked to be potentially on the brink of death, now back and (hopefully) stronger than ever. Changes have been made, players that you thought would be on your team 10 months ago are now in rival colours, but it doesn’t matter. The CFL is back, and you couldn’t be happier to be at the stadium.
For casual fans, a possibly much different story. The CFL hasn’t been in your life for about 10 months now. It’s almost like you have forgotten that it exists. Who are these players on this team and why is my favourite player on the rival team you ask yourself. Distance didn’t make the heart grow fonder, and you can’t even go to the stadium for a game anymore since you either don’t have season tickets or don’t want to pay those astronomical prices to be one of the few people in there. You’ve possibly grown to like the NFL during the previous summer and you’ve left the CFL behind.
With all of the different possibilities above, it’s hard to predict what exactly the 2021 season is going to look like. With how quickly things have changed in the world during this pandemic, who could possibly know what 2021 is even going to look like to begin with.
That being said, here’s my best prediction. The hardcore CFL fan is going to make the 2021 season something to remember. Regardless of capacity is limited to 50 per-cent or is all the way open and teams can sell every seat, CFL fans are going to be back in full support of their teams. Some teams will do better than others to be sure, but those loyal fan bases will be back.
The casual fan will need some convincing. That is to be expected. Let’s assume there is a vaccine and risk is minimal. Those casual fans will be looking for things to do and the CFL will have a good opportunity to capture those casuals and make them regulars. It’s something they can’t miss.
Ultimately, it is up to the season ticket holders from each team to make the 2021 season a fun one. Creating a good atmosphere and returning to the game we all love is paramount for not only those of us craving football but also the success of the league. Will the 2021 season be a party? Absolutely, as much as it could possibly be under the circumstances. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Grey Cup looks like when it heads to Hamilton for 2021.