I don't usually wander into the area of sports, not just on Politico but in any aspect of writing life, but it's been too interesting this week watching the hype around the 100th Grey Cup celebrations.
Now typically in these sports situations, the fans deride the people hoping on the bandwagon, but in the case of the CFL, particularly the Toronto Argos, the more is indeed the merrier. In the busy professional sports arena that is the city of Toronto, the Argos often take a back seat to the Blue Jays, the Leafs, the Raptors, and even the Toronto FC. For Argos fans that's adding insult to injury because not only has their team made it to the playoffs in the last decade, they've also won a championship in the last 10 years too.
But if the Argos are making waves this week, it's to a veritable celestial line-up they owe the credit. First, it's the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup this year, second the team from the host city is in the game, and third, and most importantly, NHL hockey is no where in sight. In fact, another slate of regular season games was cancelled Friday, which may have piled on even more enthusiasm for the Grey Cup.
Of course, the CFL is enjoyed to a tremendous capacity in almost all the eight cities across Canada that it's played. The difference in Toronto is that persistent self-perception that it's too big, too world-class, to celebrate it's own historic, and accomplished, CFL franchise. A World Series win, a Stanley Cup victor, those are occasions to celebrate. But a Grey Cup win? Even Hamilton gets one of those. Saskatchewan too.
That attitude does neither the CFL nor the Argos justice, especially when they're able to do so much, and do it without the money and resources of the Blue Jays or the Leafs. As the Argos were slogging their way to the Grey Cup, TV ads for season tickets to the 2013 Blue Jay season were already on the air, and as many less successful NHL markets in the US struggle to make enough to pay the rent, the dawn of a new Leafs season (usually) means a sold out Air Canada Centre, in spite of the fact that they haven't made the playoffs in six years and haven't won a Stanley Cup in 45.
Why? Money. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment doesn't have to spend money to put together a winning team because people will come out and fawn over the team no matter how many times they miss the playoffs or hit a brick wall after the first round. As for the Blue Jays, they're part of a conglomerate that has its fingers in TV, radio, telecommunications and being the Argos' landlord. If they lose money on the Jays, they can make it up in other sectors, although recent events seem to indicate that the Jays management is going to put some effort in winning for a change in 2013. As for the Leafs, well, the NHL has to go back to work before they can even look to try a playoff run this year.
From a strictly patriotic viewpoint, it's nice to see this Canadian game get so much positive press in an area of the country that sometimes thinks it's too grown up for a "small town" game like the CFL. Everyone loves an underdog, right? So welcome back to the CFL. They've been waiting for you.