The CFL Canadian ratio is no bargaining chip

I hope the CFL is bluffing. A league that has long been known more for its gaffs than its intelligence as a whole — see American expansion and the Gleibermans — may once again be putting on its dunce cap.

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I hope the CFL is bluffing.

A league that has long been known more for its gaffs than its intelligence as a whole — see American expansion and the Gleibermans — may once again be putting on its dunce cap.

It’s unfortunate because they had been doing so well for a few years, that it looked like they may have graduated into being a strong professional sports league.

But if they are serious about the rumoured issue of dropping the number of designated Canadian starters for the up coming collective bargaining agreement then they will continue to be held back from serious contention for that category.

The Canadian content is what makes the game Canadian. And it has sustained the league through many of its foibles and missteps.

Currently teams have to designate seven spots in their starting lineup for Canadians. There are those within the league who would like to see that number dropped to four.

League GMs cite problems finding Canadian talent mid-season to replace injured starters as the main reason for this now becoming an issue.

I say too bad.

That’s not the game’s fault or the player’s fault. That’s on the GMs and the franchises themselves. They are far too lazy — for the most part.

This kind of whining makes it seem like the game of football is dying north of the border when in fact it is as healthy as it has ever been and is only growing. In fact the teams that have realized this, like the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions, have been among the most successful in the league over the past decade.

They have made developing Canadian talent a priority and they have been very successful at doing so. Not only has this made them a stronger club on the field, but I firmly believe it has been a major part in making them stronger within their communities.

But teams like the Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats have constantly fumbled their draft picks and have done a poor job of developing their own Canadian talent, it is no wonder they have struggled the last few years.

Far too many teams treat the CFL ratio as an excuse for their struggles instead of using it as a minimum goal.

It is their excuse for shying away from bringing in Canadians at the skill positions like running back, receiver, and especially quarterback — if the player gets hurt then they have to find another Canadian to replace him.

But that wouldn’t be a concern if you are over the ratio to begin with.

Probably the most frustrating part of all of that is the quarterback position. Teams would rather sign an American quarterback and retrain him for the Canadian game while he holds clip board for three years than bring in a top CIS quarterback who grew up in the Canadian game and develop him over three years.

This year there are two quarterbacks rewriting the CIS record book — Michael Faulds at the University of Western Ontario and Danny Brannagan at Queens University — and chances are neither will get a sniff of a CFL practice roster.

Whether teams want to admit it or not, there are more quality Canadian players in the game than ever before. This is something that they should be celebrating instead of approaching with indifference.

This is more than just trying to prove we can play football too. This is about protecting our game from becoming another run of the mill minor league or failed experiment like the XFL, USFL or NFL Europe.

This is about making sure that there will be Normie Kwongs, Russ Jacksons, Lui Passaglias, Ray Elgaards, Mike O’Sheas and Ben Cahoons for future Canadian football players to look up to.

But even that, apparently, is too tough for the CFL to handle properly.

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com

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