- The English: Are They Human? Case Study 5: The Battle of Fishguard – September 24, 2020
- The English: Are They Human? Case Study 4: On Whale Sovereignty – September 17, 2020
- The English: Are They Human? Case Study 3: Henry I and the Eel Dinner – September 10, 2020
Hello all – after almost six months away, the CFL Beat makes its glorious return this week! I’m looking forward to another year of covering the ridiculous sport of Canadian football for all of you; with the global COVID-19 pandemic throwing a variety of wrenches into a variety of plans, things may look a little weird on here for a while.
WELCOME (BACK) TO THE CFL?
The first-ever CFL Beat, from 2016, provides more specifics than what I will be listing below, but if you’re unfamiliar with the sport or are looking for a quick refresher, here are some of the most important things to know:
- The league was founded in 1958, though teams have competed for the Grey Cup, Canadian football’s top prize, since 1909.
- There are nine teams organized into two divisions, each playing an 18-game regular season. The division winners each get a bye into the second round of the playoffs.
- Among the most important rule differences between the NFL and CFL: only 3 downs, field is 110 yards long by 65 yards wide, each team plays 12 players a side instead of 11, defense starts 1 yard back from the line of scrimmage, kicks/punt returners get 5 yards of buffer zone to make a catch, missed field goals that leave the end zone are called rouges and are worth one point – they are hilarious when they occur. (You can check out the full list of rule differences in 2016’s welcoming article, or here on Wikipedia if you’re curious.)
Normally at the start of the season I take the time to preview for all of the East Division teams, followed by the West Division teams the week after. That said, for obvious reasons, this is going to be put on hold for the meantime, until the league figures out whether or not it’s even going to be able to re-open this year. As of yesterday, the CFL has stated that it is aiming for a September re-launch of a shortened regular season; it may also end up playing the Grey Cup game in December, as opposed to its usual last weekend of November timing.
If the CFL manages to have some sort of a season, the 2020 Grey Cup is going to be held by the team with the best record in the truncated regular season. This year’s contest was slated to be held in Regina, Saskatchewan at the new Mosaic Stadium, home of the Roughriders; it was going to be the first Grey Cup held at the venue since its opening in 2017. Since Regina will no longer be hosting the game, due to such uncertainty, they will be guaranteed to host the 2022 contest. (2021 is scheduled for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Tim Hortons Field.)
This brings me to give you fine people a few nuggets of info before I have to tackle the tough of what the hell I’m going to do in order to fill this space on a weekly basis.
2020 POINTS OF INTEREST?
- The biggest question, of course, is not simply whether the CFL will have a season this year; it’s apparently whether or not the league will be able to survive such a long and protracted shutdown, as so many other industries currently face. Unlike the four major leagues of North American sports, the CFL’s annual revenue is predominantly gate-driven, and while their current TV deal with TSN has helped to diversify these sources of revenue, at the end of the day, if there’s no games, there’s no TV money paid out.
- CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie approached the Canadian federal government at the beginning of April with a request for a loan in order to keep the league afloat through this year – it’s believed to be $30 million CAD, with the possibility that it could expand to $150 million through several loans over the next two years. That’s a huge chunk of change – and while the sports fan in me is alright with this relief money, the real, practical side of me is reluctant to see that amount of tax money put forward into a business that unfortunately cannot be argued to be essential in any way. It’s a tough ask, and the messaging wasn’t great, particularly since the presentation to the feds wasn’t done in consultation with the players’ association.
- The Montreal Alouettes were sold in January to Sid Speigel and Gary Stern, owners of Crawford Steel, a Toronto company. With the sale, a long, protracted dance finally comes to a close, as the CFL had assumed control of the team when Robert Wetenhall sold his stake in May 2019. Committed ownership is important to the success of the league, and while S & S Sportsco is a positive step forward, Gary Stern had an interview with Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette in which he stated that the Als could lose up to $9 million this year, while the CFL as a whole could lose $100 million in a worst-case scenario. We can only hope that the league will figure out a way for games to be played – even if it happens without fans in the stands for a while.
- With the loss of revenues, it remains to be seen what will happen with the bid by the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Atlantic Schooners organization that is hoping to become the CFL’s 10th franchise. While headway has been made in terms of securing season seat deposits, there remains a lot of work to be done on the issues of building a suitable venue for the team to play. The original Shannon Park site, former home to part of CFB Halifax, was rejected by municipal council, and as a result, several new locations are being researched for their viability. Another notable issue with the project is the step-back of Anthony LeBlanc from an active role in the bid; he accepted a job as president of business operations with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, and therefore will be busy with other affairs. I would still love for CFL football to work in the Maritimes, but with the economy almost certain to take a continued nosedive over the next while, it’s tough seas ahead for the Schooners.
2020 CFL BEAT CONTENT?
So how, exactly, am I going to fill this space with things to write about until the season resumes? Well, good news, folks. I have a treasure trove of recorded Grey Cup games, dating all the way back to 1950! Each week until games resume, I’ll be watching a different Grey Cup game and recapping it with some observations. For most of our readers here on [DFO], you probably have never had the chance to see these games in full before, so I look forward to sharing these experiences with you. The same is true with me – as a goddamned filthy millennial (1992 birth date!), I can hardly remember anything sports related before the year 1997 – so for many of these games, it’ll be a first time viewing for me too.
We’ll be starting off our weekly quarantine Grey Cup watch parties next week with a recap of a game that has become lore in sports history for my hometown of Ottawa: the 64th Grey Cup game from 1976, featuring “The Catch” by Rough Riders TE Tony Gabriel. If you want to get a jump on next week’s recap, check out the YouTube video below for the game in its entirety!
2019 STANDINGS AND STATS?
East Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Points For||Points Against|
West Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Points For||Points Against|
- Fajardo, SSK – 4302
- Harris, EDM – 4027
- Bethel-Thompson, TOR – 4024
- Bethel-Thompson, TOR – 26
- Adams Jr., MTL – 24
- Evans, HAM – 21
- Harris, WPG – 1380
- Powell, SSK – 1093
- Stanback, MTL – 1048
- Banks, HAM – 1550
- Burnham, BC – 1492
- Begelton, CGY – 1444
- Hughes, SSK – 16
- Davis, HAM – 13
- Jefferson, WPG – 12
- Rose, WPG – 9
- Roberson, CGY – 7
- Rolle, HAM – 5
- Whyte, EDM – 47
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 47
- Ward, OTT – 43
2020 PICK POOL?
Once the season resumes again, I will of course be running a pick’em pool as per usual – congrats again to our 2019 winner, Litre_Cola, who led all contestants with 61 points last year. I’ll be sure to put a link out once more information on the start of the season becomes available!
2019 Pool Results
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||58||4-0||71.60%|
And with that, tune in next week to check out the 64th Grey Cup – looking forward to sportsing around here once again.