Let me get straight to the point, in this my first article for the 13th Man Podcast, I think the CFL should become even more pro-Canadian.
It’s a uniquely Canadian game, so there shouldn’t be any problems for CFL teams getting enough Canadian players to fill roster spots, particularly when less than half of a team’s roster must be Canadian.
I often hear claims suggesting that there aren’t enough Canadians who are good enough to cover those roster spots. Wait, what? We’re supposed to believe that in a country of more than 37 million people, there aren’t enough homegrown football players to fill the relatively small void?
Actually, there is plenty of homegrown talent good enough to cut it in the CFL, particularly late in the season when teams are riddled with injuries.
Reading between the lines, those who advocate that theory must be suggesting that guys like Andrew Harris, Brad Sinopoli, Daniel Petermann, Pat Neufeld, Taylor Loffler, John Rush and Paul Kozachuk, to name just a few Canadians, are all exceptions to the rule? There couldn’t possibly be any more like them, right?
Well frankly, if you buy into that then, as the old saying goes, I have some beachfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.
Ever since I was a youngster, Canadian football has been my number one sporting passion. I prefer it to any other code of football anywhere, including the NFL.
As a guy who was born and raised in Canada until my teens, my dream was to play in the CFL. I played football at school and my plan was to go to university and continue playing there figuring it would give me a leg up to the CFL.
In my case, my parents moved our family to Australia, so I ended up playing rugby instead and didn’t get to test my theory, but if you multiply the number of my former school teammates across the country, you’ll get an idea of how many football players there are in Canada at the grassroots level, many of whom will eventually be good enough to play in the CFL.
To back up my theory, let’s do the math.
Right now, there are nine teams in the CFL and each one must have a minimum of 21 Canadians on their roster. That means, in total, there are 189 spots that must be filled by Canadians. If and when the Atlantic Schooners get up and running, that number will swell to a whopping 210.
That means that also accounting for extra players on practice squads who aren’t on teams’ starting rosters, overall, we’re probably looking at say 200-225 Canadians who are either in or on the fringes of the CFL every season. And that’s a conservative estimate.
Let’s dig a little deeper to see how many Canadians play football at university.
There are 27 USports football teams. The number of players on their rosters varies from 75-100 and of that number, roughly five to six seniors at a minimum become eligible for the CFL every year.
Over the past 17 years, 71%* of CFL draft selections have come from Canadian universities. In 2014, 98%* of draft picks were from Canadian universities, the largest proportion of the last 17 years. In 2018, 81%* of picks were from Canadian universities, the second-largest margin in the last 17 years (*figures provided by USports).
Of course, not every single eligible senior is a Canadian, but most are, meaning that conservatively speaking there are about 160 players give or take who become eligible for the CFL every season. When you add them to the 200-225 who are already on teams or practice squads, I would venture to say that there are more than enough players to fill those Canadian roster spots.
And here’s another thing about all this, the guys coming out of Canadian universities have been playing the three-down game for years, so they’re ready to play, unlike Americans who are relatively clueless about the Canadian game when they first venture north of the border.
So, please, enough with the spurious argument about there not being enough Canadians good enough to play a uniquely Canadian game.