Hewitt Commentary: NFL turning a blind eye to Canadian leagues financial issues
In this April 25, 2019, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks ahead of the first round at the NFL football draft in Nashville, Tenn. In a memo sent to the 32 teams Monday, April 6, 2020, and obtained by The Associated Press, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined procedures for the April 23-25 draft. The guidelines include no group gatherings. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, FIle)
REGINA -- Earlier this week, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, stated that the CFL would be required to implement the same COVID-19 bubble requirements as the NHL.
That’s a very expensive undertaking for a much smaller league.
The CFL continues to wait, with baited breath, for federal government financial support. Our Canadian league is hoping for a return to action in Winnipeg early this fall.
Meanwhile the NFL, the CFL’s big brother, ignores little brother’s plight, at least from what we understand today.
It’s not like an old Hardy Boy’s book, instead, big brother Frank is telling poor Joe to ‘buzz off.’
The NFL needs the CFL for a variety of reasons.
Does the NFL want to risk being the only legitimate professional “North American style” football league in the world?
“Our” brand of football is not a global sport. Not by a longshot. The other football, the real football, what we call soccer here, dwarfs the North American version by a huge margin.
The NFL’s Super Bowl is viewed by just over 100 million. In 2018, the Men’s World Cup Soccer Final attracted 3.6 billion viewers.
Last year the Women’s World Cup Final enjoyed a TV audience of 1.12 billion.
Meanwhile, here in North America, the league with the highest projection growth rating going forward is Major League Soccer, the MLS.
Thirty years from now the professional sports landscape on this continent could dramatically change.
While the NFL is a very wealthy league, with 2018 revenues of over 8 billion dollars, the actual sport, at the grass roots level, is in participation decline.
According to Forbes magazine, since 2008 thousands of six to 12 year olds stopped playing football in the U.S.
Participation has plummeted by 32 per cent
American high school participation is down nine per cent during this time.
Here in Regina the fabled Thom Trojan football program folded due to limited student interest.
So, the NFL obviously have serious concerns about the participation decline of their sport, despite its current North American fan popularity.
While the CFL is a free NFL farm system, other sports leagues spend millions of dollars developing players.
Defensive end Cameron Wake is an example of the NFL’s free ride. The Miami Dolphins found Cam dominating while playing for the BC Lions. The rest is history. Wake is the best defensive end to ever play in Miami.
Another former BC Lion, QB Joe Kapp, lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl.
To develop players, Major League Baseball clubs operate and help pay for four to five farm squads. They build schools in the Caribbean.
The NBA helps fund the G League.
When an NHL team drafts a player from a CHL squad, they pay that CHL organization, on a scale, for developing that player.
What did the BC Lions get for Cameron Wake?
Not even an Okanogan apple.
Most American-born CFL players sign only one-year deals because they want an NFL window the following season. That means a lot of grey hairs for the likes of Rider GM Jeremy O’Day.
Heck, the CFL also sends the NFL developed coaches. Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Head Coach Bud Grant is a living legend in Minnesota.
Shortly, Chicago Bear coaches will see guest coach Henry Burris smiling at training camp holding a playbook.
Simply put, the NFL takes the CFL for granted. Pro spring leagues south of the border don’t work, the CFL does.
I have a CFL bias, truthfully both the NFL and CFL benefit from each other.
So, when is Frank going to lend a hand to little brother Joe Hardy?
Franklin W. Dixon is rolling in his grave.
It’s high time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his band of billionaire pals do the right thing, and ultimately for them, the smart thing.
Don Hewitt started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.