Volume 92, Issue 51

Thursday, December 3, 1998

shifting alignment


Television makes the difference

On Tuesday it was announced that Canadian business man Calder Spence was attempting to secure an National Collegiate Athletic Association football bowl game for Toronto.

It's an excellent idea if thought out properly. It would give Toronto a chance to show itself off to Americans from Michigan, New York and Ohio who would have no other reason to come to Canada.

In addition, the Mid-American Conference is looking to get itself another bowl game to get those much needed television revenues.

This will give the world class city another sporting attraction to go along with the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jays and the Raptors. The bowl game will provide an opportunity to fill a venue like the SkyDome during the winter months, which should help maintain the viability of this enormous eye sore.

The reason this has become so important to the SkyDome and the city of Toronto is because the venue cannot garner enough attention with events like the Grey Cup and the annual Canadian university flop, the Vanier Cup.

This can be blamed completely on television. Coverage of college football in the United States is the best – bar none. Companies pump hundreds of millions of dollars into coverage, often making the football game a secondary attraction. And most of this coverage gets into many Canadian homes on Saturday afternoons during the fall and winter months.

So much money can be made based on the popularity of football and TV companies would be stupid not to break their budgets to cover it.

Football is also very popular in Canada. So why don't people watch Canadian university football? Because they are too busy watching CBS' telecast of the Notre Dame vs. University of Southern California game or a Florida team wreaking havoc.

People say it's because U.S. college football is better, played by better players and so on. It has nothing to do with that because most people say they couldn't tell the difference between a NCAA player and a CIAU player. If you can, then there are hundreds of jobs for you as a scout.

The main reason people don't watch Canadian football is because of the way it's packaged on TV. Canadian broadcast companies cannot put together a show like their American counterparts because there is simply no interest.

With no interest, there's no advertising revenue, meaning there's no show. And with no show, there's no interest. So you can see the problem.

If TSN or OnTV could somehow put together a television broadcast which even resembled an American broadcast, then most certainly it would sell. Canada's brand of football is more exciting. Unfortunately, many do not know this because they have already been sucked into believing that American football is the best because the television says so.

The difference between the talent level in the two leagues is minimal. Rule differences keep the two styles unique and the argument that four down football is more exciting is often made.

But in this day and age of high octane offences, nothing is better than CIAU football. Even punting has become an exciting part of the game.

Unfortunately people keep tuning into American stations to watch American football because it is much more pleasing to the senses.

Toronto and the SkyDome have apparently realized this, so they're going to give Canadians want they want – more American football.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998