CFL’s Schedule Shuffle Makes Plenty of Sense

I know I’ve stoked a few complaints with some of my prior opinion pieces but this may be the most controversial. Stated simply, I think the league’s handling of the Elks and Argos COVID-19 postponement has been right on the money. Listen, I’m not saying it’s ideal. Ideally, COVID-19 would not have killed people. Ideally, we would not have lost a 2020 CFL season. Ideally, the Elks would not have had an outbreak and the game would have been played as planned. Ideally.

But that’s not the way it went down. I will try to make this my last time to remind everybody that I’m a CFL fanatic who lives in the states. I have followed the League religiously, for decades. When I played youth football, I was coached by the brother of a former Ticat great.

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Because I live in the US, it is not practical for me to cross the border for CFL games, not reasonable for me to get season tickets this year, not likely I can get to the Grey Cup game in Hamilton — just about an hour from my home. It’s not ideal.

So, when the Elks breakout happened we had to consider — once again– what it’s like to be in a world that is not ideal.

The game has been rescheduled. It means both teams have a rough patch, with quick turnarounds, in their schedule.  It’s not ideal. But, from following CFL Twitter, I saw several overreactions. Toronto and Hamilton play each other on Labour Day, and then — again — four days later. That was the original schedule. Quick turnaround.

As I understand it, both teams unanimously voted to play on the rescheduled date.  Yes, other teams “not involved” had their schedules impacted. Primarily, I suspect, to accommodate TV and travel schedules. It’s not ideal.

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But, part of being in a league is the responsibility of understanding that each team does not exist in a vacuum.  Forfeiting would have meant giving the Argos points in a playoff race, which would negatively impact the other Eastern teams.

The league needs TV revenue and viewers, so it does not make sense to double schedule start times and divide the audience. It’s a matter of dollars, cents and sense. It’s not ideal.

I don’t know about you, but when the first rumblings of an XFL merger surfaced I was demoralized. “Covid killed the CFL.” I know it may be hard to believe a “yank” could say it — but this League, this 3-down football thing — has been like a lifelong friend to me. In fact, it has treated me better than most of my friends, and I’ve been more loyal to it.

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I suspect that the league was closer than we may know to just going away. Its survival is a testament to the fans, the league office, and all those who play, coach, manage and otherwise love this game.

It’s okay to have an opinion, even to second-guess by noting the imperfections — outlining other alternatives — etcetera.

And, the fact that they may have saved the whole thing from oblivion does not mean the league is incapable of mistakes. But it should mean that we collectively give them a break.  And, that we try to understand the need to make reasonable allowances for less-than-ideal situations that occur for reasons largely beyond our control.

Perhaps the Elks players and/or organization could have done something different. Maybe even better?

Sometimes, in life, we make choices between several imperfect outcomes. We try to do as best we can. The league did well. Let’s enjoy some football.

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