The CFL is Getting Older, But Who's to Blame?
Published: Monday, Mar 9th 2020, 8:03am
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the CFL, its aging fans and how to bring in a younger audience. We all have our thoughts on how to solve this problem, but let’s face it… right now none of it is really working.
We all want younger fans to get to games, enjoy them and become a lifelong fan. That is, after all, how you win an audience in pro sports. But TV only does so much. While CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN have done some great things with the NFL and fantasy football really made the NFL a home watching experience, the CFL hasn’t done that.
TSN having a monopoly on the TV rights is partly to blame for that. Without any competition, how are they forced to be better? The CFL on TSN product is fine, but it’s getting a bit stale. I think they have some great personalities like Milt Stegall, Henry Burris and Matt Dunigan that are doing a wonderful job at being themselves, but the game product itself is lacking.
I’m sure I can find a few things on the TV side of it that I could talk about, but this is about us… the FANS.
We all have that story of our parents or grandparents taking us to our first game. Our first game at Taylor Field, Ivor Wynne Stadium, the Skydome, etc. That’s where we fell in love with the game. That’s where the CFL won us for life.
What happened to that? I fell in love with the CFL when my mom took me to a game (which, because money was tight, didn’t happen very often). It was a pre-season game and the Riders won on a last second field goal. It must have been around 1993 or 94, when I was 6 or 7. We sat in the Family Fun Zone in the endzone and I was hooked. The view sucked, there was no big screen to look at, but it was affordable and it was FUN.
So why don’t we hear of these stories anymore?
Certainly ticket prices have a lot to do with it. The CFL and their 9 teams have found their breaking point with the fans. It’s simply not worth it anymore to pay nearly $100 for an adult ticket for a game you get to see at home for free. Add in the concession prices and you pretty much need a second job just to fund your CFL habit. The league has simply our-priced their market.
That said, the teams are starting to introduce more family friendly price options. Edmonton is doing a $99 season ticket section, BC is having kids get in free, hell, even the Riders are doing a $99 family 4 pack of tickets. I’m of the opinion that ALL teams should have at least 1 family section, where tickets are very reasonably priced and should be alcohol-free. As much as I love a nice cold brewski watching a game, I would never take a kid to Mosaic Stadium, simply because of the drinking that goes on there. I’d for sure take kids to an alcohol-free section (which isn’t beside Pil Country… come on Riders, what the hell are you thinking?) and show them the FUN of the game.
But still, all I see is people complaining that the league isn’t doing enough in markets like BC and Toronto. They ARE. The league is trying. Is it all working? Of course not. But CFL fans bashing these markets isn’t helping, either. People see that others are bashing this product/market, so why bother going? We should be PRAISING these markets and selling the product to others. Instead of slagging on things, why not look for some positives?
CFL fans, it’s time to look in the mirror, myself included. Why aren’t WE selling this game that we love so much? There’s plenty the league can do to attract more and younger viewers, but what are we doing? Are we making the CFL a must see event? Or has the league become so “Old Boys Club” that it doesn’t matter what we do anymore? We just want to be with the handful of people we know and that’s it?
Edmonton tweets out their $99 season ticket packages in Arabic, Cantonese, etc… and all we see is people BASHING them because it’s not in English. When people see that, why the hell would they want to subject themselves to that at a game? Be better, people! We all want this game to grow and be strong, but we’re the ones not allowing this to happen.
So who is the onus on? Look at that word… onus. On. Us. The game isn’t growing because we won’t let it grow. Stop blaming the league, we need to take responsibility too.