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Alex’s CFL Tuesday Takes – Lower the Ratio!

Published: Tuesday, Mar 19th 2019, 7:03pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


Remember not so long ago when we said the CFL offseason would be messy when it came to CBA talks? Well, we’re here and I’m entertained as all hell! Just check out Twitter and watch the players argue!


It all started when it was reported that the CFL and the CFLPA were having discussions on changing the ratio from 7 starting Nationals (Canadians) to 5 Nationals. Then people lost their minds! “It’s the CANADIAN Football League” is the main complaint I heard. Fair point. Misguided in a sense, but I’ll get to that shortly. In no order, here’s a few of my thoughts on the subject.


First off, I am all in favour of lowering the ratio from 7 National starters. Mind you, I don’t like it at 5, I would prefer 6. Hear me out… the Canadian talent in the game right now is so diluted. So much so, that many teams employ what we joke around about as a “token 7th” starter. In the Riders sense, that’s their wide side receiver. A spot occupied by Josh Stanford, Devon Bailey and Rob Bagg in 2018. A spot occupied by 3 guys that combined to get 274 yards and no touchdowns last season. Of the 3 guys, only one has a roster spot right now in the CFL (and I don’t expect him to keep it very long).

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just want the best players out there on the field, regardless of where there were born (or whatever loophole allows them to be a National… see Singleton, Alex). I DO know the importance of the ratio and I would never abolish it. I think it has a great place in our game. Let’s just, tone it down by 1 player, shall we?


Halifax is slated to join the league soon… with the Canadian talent as thin as it is when it comes to the top tier level, we are going to be adding 21 more Canadian spots. I said it was diluted before… what happens then? Yikes. Would I consider dropping the ratio to 5 when/if Halifax joins? Possibly. Definitely not right now though.


To my point of the misguided use of the term “Canadian” Football League. Many people think that it has to do with the fact the league employs nearly a 50/50 split of Canadians to Americans and that’s what makes our game Canadian. Not wrong, just not entirely right. The quirky rules of the game are what makes the game Canadian (come on, we give a point to teams for failure… does it get more Canadian than that??), but more so, WHERE the game is played is why the league is called the Canadian Football League. It’s a combination of all of those things that make our game “Canadian”.


Should we still celebrate our local born heroes? Damn straight we should! Without the ratio, guys like Zack Evans, Andrew Harris, Chris Getzlaf, Brad Sinopoli, etc. wouldn’t have gotten a fair shot to show that they belong. The importance of the ratio is not lost on me, we do NEED it in our game.


Look, no one is saying lower the amount of Canadians playing the game. There should and will still be 21 Canadians on the roster regardless. Just lower the amount of starters required. You can still start 7! It’s just lowering the minimum number, that’s all! Jobs won’t be lost. Maybe a couple of Canadian players will get paid a bit less (the wage gap is another thing, but that’s simple supply and demand…), but that’s it.


Ultimately, I think this is simply, just a bargaining tactic by the league for a few reasons. One, as we’ve seen, it shows everyone that the players in fact, are divided. They are NOT united. Never have been, never will be. Each individual player has to look out for themselves and themselves only. American or Canadian. They have bills to pay. They don’t care what the guy next to them makes, they care about what they make. If the players were as united as they claim to be, none of them would have signed new deals for the 2019 season and beyond. THAT would show the league and the owners that they aren’t going to back down.

Second, the league and PA may have said a 5 starter ratio number because the goal is 6. For the league, they lower that number to get the best talent out there on the field and, for the PA, they can spin it as a win. “Look guys, they wanted 5, but we talked them into 6. It’s not so bad.”


As for Randy Ambrosie being a former player and fans thinking that he will tend to lean towards the players… well if you think that, I have some ocean front property in Moose Jaw to sell you. Ambrosie answers to the owners. His only job is to make the league more money. TV deals, attendance, whatever. He needs to grow revenue. As a former player, he can absolutely bring experience from both sides to the negotiating table, but he answers to the owners. Not the players.


It’s the ugly part of the business, but a necessary one. Hopefully cooler heads prevail and a new CBA deal gets agreed to and ratified in time so that we don’t miss any Training Camp or regular season time. For our full thoughts on the CBA and the ratio, check back later when Piffles Podcast Episode 111 comes out later this week!


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