It’s no secret that over the past two years, the Toronto Raptors have captured the imagination of Canadian’s all over the country. People have flocked to the Raptors in droves to be a part of Canada’s team, but why haven’t they swarmed Canada’s league in the same way?
People will say that it’s because the CFL brand of football isn’t up to par as far as entertainment goes, but CFL fans know that simply isn't the case. There are many things that the CFL doesn’t do or have that could be changed or improved upon to take them to the next level.
The CFL has always struggled with not being one of the top leagues in their sport in the world. While the CFL is the number one league for the Canadian variety of football, the NFL is widely considered to be the best football league in the world. While you can make the argument that the CFL has the more entertaining football, you can’t deny that the NFL has more money. In the sports world, the more money you have, the better people think you are. That is just how it seems to work.
When you look at the Toronto Raptors, they are playing in the biggest basketball league in the world. They are worth $2.1 billion according to Forbes as of February 2020 and are coming off an NBA championship that created a parade that was attended by more than one million people. It’s not that a Raptors game is more entertaining than a football game, there is so much more to it than that.
One of the main things that turn people away from the CFL is the fact that it is Canadian. There is no American hype machine to make the CFL as huge as the American counterparts. The NFL and the NCAA are both hyped up and shoved down everyone's throats all week long, and many times, the games aren’t even close, particularly at the NCAA level. The same goes for the NBA and the Toronto Raptors. If you are Canadian, you know that you will see Raptors advertisements anytime you watch TSN or Sportsnet, and Raptors players even star in commercials with other companies. That is simply almost non-existent for the CFL.
To go along with that, plenty of people won’t watch the CFL because of its Canadian factor. The Americans aren’t watching or caring about the CFL, so, therefore, it’s not important or entertaining.
When the XFL launched for the second time, Americans flocked to the league and some cities even forced their teams to open more seats to allow for even more fans to attend the games. In many cases, you will find that it is some (not all) of those people who say the CFL is “inferior football”. That answer simply doesn’t work when the XFL was on par with the CFL. Football is football and if you love the game, you will be open to the idea of the CFL.
As Canadians, we should take pride in one of the few truly Canadian sports leagues. In the past, the Toronto Raptors have used the slogans “We The North” and “North Over Everything”, two slogans CFL fans should also embrace for our league. There are many similarities between the Raptors and the CFL.
When was the last time you saw the Toronto Raptors get any respect from American media and fans? Now ask yourself the same question about the CFL. You likely got the same answer, never. For the people who don’t support the CFL but have bought into the Raptors, I leave you with this question; how come? The Raptors are a national treasure, but the CFL could (and should) be just as loved if we gave it the attention it deserves.
Maybe now that the Toronto Raptors season has come to a close after a game seven loss to the Boston Celtics, Canada’s focus will shift to the Toronto Blue Jays. It really is a shame that Canada’s oldest pro sports league was forced to the sidelines for the 2020 season.