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CFL Can’t Play With Ontario

Published: Tuesday, Nov 20th 2018, 5:11am

by: Greg McCulloch (@GregOnSports)


Since 2016 the CFL has had a partnership with the LGTBQ non-profit “You Can Play”.

“You Can Play” was created to help promote safety and inclusion in all aspect of sport for the LGTBQ community.

Since the beginning of the relationship, the CFL has sold CFL branded “You Can Play” merchandise and one of the flagship events during Grey Cup week has been party co-hosted by both the CFL and “You Can Play”. This year the party has been renamed “The Diversity is Strength Party” after the CFL’s marketing campaign to endorse inclusivity.

When the CFL launched the diversity campaign in 2017 it got coverage North American wide, it showed that the CFL was willing to be a leader in diversity and inclusivity.

But now the CFL may have a true test of their leadership in front of them.

This past weekend at their party convention the Ontario PC Party passed Resolution R4 essentially telling transgender people they don’t exist. With the resolution, the party will also remove gender identity from all school curricula basically believing that if they just ignore it, it will either go away or solve itself.

After the initial fervour it caused Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, has stated he would block the resolution from being put into actual policy. However, while he is the leader of the party he must listen to his members, so until it is officially stricken down there is still a chance that this could end up as official policy.

And if that does happen, the CFL has to… No, the CFL MUST remove Ontario from all discussion for the hosting of CFL week, the CFL Combine, and, probably most important, the Grey Cup.

While this seems extreme, the move would not be unprecedented. The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana after the North Carolina enacted a bill deeming what public bathrooms transgendered people could or couldn’t use.  It wasn’t till the bill was repealed did the NBA allow Charlotte to even bid for the All-Star game again.

It is unfortunate that the fans and franchises of Hamilton, Ottawa, and Toronto would have to be affected by this.

Hamilton has been waiting over 2 decades to host the Grey Cup again. With their new stadium and lawsuits behind they finally, have a legit shot at hosting the 2020 or 2021 Grey Cup. The fanbase is begging for a shot to show Canada why they should wait another 23 years to host one.

Ottawa has been guaranteed the next CFL week be it either 2019 or 2020 depending on the status of the next CBA. Ottawa is the league’s newest team and latest success story in both attendance and on the field. Being in the nation’s capital also doesn’t hurt their political clout.

Toronto is the literal home city of the CFL. The CFL combine is scheduled to be in Toronto in 2019. The Argo’s new ownership is by far the strongest sports entity in the entire country. Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, or MLSE, is a conglomeration of Rogers and Bell Media. They own the Raptors, Toronto FC, Marlies, and Maple Leafs. They have Sportsnet and TSN, basically, they run the sports media in this country. They have been slowly rebuilding a new fan base after previous ownership missteps. Losing the ability to secure a marquee event won’t help cultivate fans.

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently has described his vision for the CFL as “[It will be…] the most important league in this country, the most important game in this country, because it’s our game.”

If the CFL is serious about truly being the most important game in this country it will take more than selling merchandise.

It will be taking a stand for what is right no matter the cost.


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