CFL Season Starting Earlier: An Endless Debate

As the 2016 CFL pre-season kicks off this weekend, thoughts of whether the CFL season should start and, therefore, end earlier always seem to arise. So at Last Word on Sports, we thought it would be fun to spark a friendly debate about the CFL season starting earlier.

The CFL season has kicked off in June with its pre-season games for as long as fans can remember. This has worked well so far, but every year around this time, the fans and the league question whether having the season start earlier would be beneficial. After all, it has its advantages. But what about about the disadvantages? Last Word on Sports writers, Gina Schiltz (arguing for an earlier start) and Troy Durrell (arguing against), will debate three main points on this often heated topic.

CFL Season Starting Earlier: The Debate

Interference From Other Sports

Troy:
If the CFL was to start a couple of weeks early, would fans be okay with the CFL season kicking off during, say, game seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or NBA Finals? Or even in the middle of the series? Opening weekend is one of the most anticipated weeks of the season and it would not be good for the league or fans if they had to compete with these other leagues. The season starting late in June means the CFL can be front and centre along with the Blue Jays to give fans their sports fix for the summer. The 2016 season is a bit different with the UEFA Euro Championships and Rio Summer Olympics taking place in June, July, and August, but in most summers, fans will tune into the CFL and the Blue Jays.

Gina:
Having a variety of sports on at the same time gives fans a choice of what they prefer to watch. Some football fans find it very frustrating that the only thing on, for example, all five TSN sports channels in May and June is NBA or NHL. These individual leagues are not going to suffer greatly if a CFL game overlaps with another league’s. And CFL season tickets are much more affordable than NHL, NBA or NFL. Fans who are lucky enough to have a CFL team in their city and has season tickets usually commit to attending all home team games. Most sports fans would rather attend a live sporting event than watch one on TV. Even if you take away the live-game factor and are watching all sporting events on television, moving the CFL season up would give all fans a choice, rather than being stuck watching a sport they may not be interested in.

Weather

Troy:
Everyone knows Canadian weather is almost impossible to predict. But more likely than not, late June has decent weather. And during Grey Cup week in November, the weather has been great. Even in Winnipeg and Regina, the weather conditions were perfect for a championship game. Plus, it could get cold any time after late September. Moving the game closer to Halloween and the World Series might influence some people to shy away from booking trips to the ‘big dance’ due to other commitments. You’re basically trading cold weather for wet conditions, and personally I would take chilly temperatures and snow every time.

Gina:
Yes, Canadian weather is hard to predict. And yes, fortunately the past couple of years where the Grey Cup was held in the prairies, fans were treated to decent weather. But ask any fan who attended a playoff game late in November; they have probably sat in -15 degree weather, or worse. Yes, occasionally you may see unseasonably cooler weather in September and October, but it does not compare to frigid temperatures that are likely in November. More people would turn away from going to a game in cold temperatures than they would for a chance of some rain. Do the players find it more difficult playing in the cold than the rain? In 2014, the Edmonton Eskimos complained that having the semi-final playoff game at Commonwealth stadium in frigid temperatures affected attendance, and thus, caused the league a dip in revenue at a time when most games at this point in the season are sold out.

NFL Cuts

Troy:
The NFL season doesn’t start until September, and with some CFL players trying to make their respective rosters south of the border, if they did end up coming back to Canada, their seasons would be shortened. Take Weston Dressler a few years back. He only played half a season in 2014 because he was trying to make the Kansas City Chiefs. How would fans react if teams paid a king’s ransom for a player who signs a one-year deal and then goes and only plays seven or eight games? It wouldn’t be good for the league or the teams signing the players. It would just throw teams for a loop and some teams may shy away from signing NFL cuts.

Gina:
I get that teams may shy away from signing NFL cuts, but I’m going to take the unpopular opinion that may be unpopular by some and risk offending many. But we are the Canadian Football League; why are we relying on whether a Canadian player can make it in the NFL or not? Yes, the league has amazing talent in the United States, there’s no denying that, by why are CFL teams so ready to wait for throwbacks from the NFL when they should be focusing on players who want to play in this league? Few players who start off in the CFL make it in the NFL. Yes, every year there are exceptions, but more likely than not, players head south for the NFL, probably for more money, only to get cut and then come back to the CFL to try again. Is the CFL a supposedly inferior league? That may be an entirely different debate for another time. I’m proud of our uniquely Canadian game and would love to see more Canadian players staying here.

 

Regardless on which side you take, the CFL is a great sport, one that is enjoyed just as much as any other. Debating the topic of an earlier start happens every year, and will probably continue. Maybe some fans are tired of asking “Is it June yet?”.

What do you think? Should the CFL move up its kickoff date?

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Currently enrolled at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary. Avid sports fan including the CFL, NHL, International hockey, NFL, Junior hockey. Likes spending time with family. Follow me on twitter! @TroyDurrell or email me if you have an interest in myself, or have any requests or questions, at [email protected]