New football partnership puts CIAU in league of its own
By John Intini
The announcement last week of a new Turner-NBC football league in the United States is good news for the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union's football league and its athletes.
It really isn't that complicated when you think about it. The new league will be employing more grid-iron athletes in addition to the number needed to fill the rosters in the Canadian Football League and the National Football League. Since it is extremely doubtful that any of these new teams will put any existing franchises out of business, the math is simple Canadian athletes will now be a more important part of the football equation.
There are two definitive ways this will happen, with the 49th parallel dividing the two directions for Canadian football players.
South of the border, a drain on the talent pool will cause franchises from both the National Football League and the new unnamed league to search further and harder for raw talent.
There are only a handful of athletes ready to step into a professional team's starting line-up from American universities, so chances are the practice squads of these pro franchises will become more like minor league training teams. With more attention on development, Canadian universities can have more to offer.
As well, the timing for the new league could not be better synchronized for the Canadian graduates hoping to head south. Recent Canuck players have found success in the NFL and have blazed a trail that has never been seen before.
Athletes, such as former Mustangs Tim Tindale and Tyrone Williams caused eyebrows to be raised towards some top Canadian talent. Now with an increased need for talent, scouting and curiosity will be increased across Canada from the University of Victoria to Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, looking for the next diamond in the rough.
North of the border, the Canadian Football League will no longer be filling their roster with the minimum number of Canadian athletes that are required by quotas rules.
With an increased number of options for American varsity athletes, they will more then likely prefer to stay within the boundaries of their own country. The opportunity to shine in the spotlight of American cameras is hard to turn a blind eye to. Yankee Doug Flutie was one of the best individuals ever to don a Canadian Football League jersey but when the Buffalo Bills offered him a chance to shine in his own nation he went for it. So did quarterback Warren Moon (formerly of the Saskatchewan Roughriders) almost a decade ago.
However, the reason for Americans to stay in the States does not entirely revolve around culture and patriotism dollar signs are a big factor. The new unnamed league will have a lot of cash to toss around to convince players to defect over to their league and establish the new league as legit. The NFL will probably do the same to keep their star athletes. Add to that the higher rate of taxes and the sinking value of the Canadian dollar and it is clear that it is not a good idea financially for our southern neighbors to head north.
This leaves the CFL with less quality Americans to sign because they can't compete against these factors. The result there will be more Canadians in a Canadian league. What a novel idea.
With greater demand for Canuck athletes that have chosen to receive their schooling within their own countries, CIAU football will grow and mature to a higher level. More concentration will be put forward to ensure that each athlete has a fair chance to advance to the professional level. Better coaches will be hired, corporate sponsorship will increase and fan interest will be stirred.
Game play will improve with each athlete knowing that scouts are watching their every move. Isn't it ironic that the decision of two huge American corporations will indirectly create one of the biggest boosts that the small Canadian varsity football scene has ever seen? This is just the boot in the ass that the CIAU needed.