This article is in response to an opinion piece written by Ken Coates in the Regina Leader-Post that can be found here.
I don’t know Ken Coates of the Regina Leader-Post, I don’t have a vote in Canadian elections and I have never even been an official resident, let alone a citizen, of Canada. I was born in and have lived my entire life in the United States. Still, I felt the need to reply to Coates after his missive aimed at Canada and the CFL.
Being perhaps a bit more interested in looking beyond my immediate surroundings in Niagara Falls, New York, it was at a young age that I started watching Canadian television, following Canadian sports and paying close attention to Canadian Politics. From Hockey Night in Canada to the CFL, to Question Period in the House of Commons, little about Canada escaped my attention, and all of what I saw made me only want to learn more.
In my hometown, we played cross-border football rivalries against teams from Thorold, Ontario. My coaches, in the US, had been Ticats. As a kid we spent family time in Canada, even vacationing in cottage country.
My first love and first career was in politics. Eventually, after spending my teen years coming to Canada, watching SCTV and listening to “the Mighty Q, high atop the tower at Younge and Bloor.” I attended graduate school at Brock University in St. Catharines to study Politics.
One of my deepest and long-term loves became three-down football. My buddies and I, and eventually my sons and I, crossed the bridges to watch the CFL. When I moved away, I would follow the league online, find ways to hear games on each team’s local radio stations, whatever it took to stay plugged in.
The CFL has long been one of your national treasures, and even before the global initiative, it was an athletic treasurer for sports fans everywhere.
Every single CFL fan knows exactly why the CFL is great. Sure, the exact relationship between Canadian and US football has changed (I’m old enough to recall “The Can-Am Bowl” — you can Google it). Still, even in this Covid-shortened year, the game itself is as strong, great and necessary as ever.
The CFL community, which represents each city that has a team, and the fans who are quite often supportive of teams nowhere near their neighbourhoods — as well as those of us who simply love the game without the strongest allegiance to any team — is a vibrant, engaged group of people.
A few years back I held season seats for the Ti-Cats. I had an extra couple tickets that I gave to a father and daughter outside Tim Horton’s Field. The dad had a bunch of questions that I reluctantly answered and he declared to me “you are a Canadian.” When I tried to respond he just kept saying it.
Listen, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but some local news guy pining for the good old days might consider some other things too. I’m not going to get into politics, I left that business, but I stayed up late to watch the recent Canadian election returns with a lot of interest. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t as hyped as I was for the CFL opener in Winnipeg or the Riders and BC game that same weekend, but what Canada does — and more importantly IS, still matters one hell of a lot on this planet.
“We used to celebrate Canada’s distinctiveness and potential; now we contemplate life in the minor leagues. Even when the stadium is great, the weather spectacular and the fans near ideal, it is still the quality of play that defines the experience. Our country’s stunning natural endowment, diverse and talented population and history with both impressive accomplishments and painful shortcomings should captivate us and ignite excitement about the future. Sadly, in Canada, as with the CFL, the game is nearing the point of being unwatchable.”Ken Coates in his article in the Regina Leader-Post
Sometimes it takes an outsider who is close enough, and old enough, to know a few things to tell you the truth about yourself. I’m sorry the Riders lost the Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl. See, I predicted they’d split the series with the Bombers.
I’m sorry Ken was disappointed by the game in Regina. I’m even more sorry that he seems to be unaware that the CFL is a quality professional league, and that the country where its games are played remains uniquely relevant and necessary on the global stage.
That dad in Hamilton was wrong, I’m not a Canadian, but I damn sure know a good thing when I see it. Canada and the CFL have plenty of mojo left in the tank.