What we learned at the fan state of the league

One of the more unique events on the CFL calendar has come and gone again for another year with the league’s fan state of the league address.

It’s an event that started a few years ago giving fans the opportunity to ask the commissioner various questions about the league. It always comes soon after the media has their go at the commish earlier that morning and generally, it’s a far different question and answer period. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, fans have all kinds of different perspectives and interests.

Like the morning session, Randy Ambrosie throws in a few little pieces of info here or there but generally speaking, there still isn’t an overwhelming amount of substance, but there was some things we can take away.

1. Randy Ambrosie can work a room

This session, compared to the media gathering, is far friendlier for the currently popular commissioner and he knows it. Ambrosie got a warm welcome when he entered the room, though not quite as warm as last year, so I was told. He generated a number of laughs. All that was missing was a Mick Foley like cheap pop.

2. Going international is a top priority

One common theme that Ambrosie kept driving home was his desire to make the CFL big outside of Canada. The deal with Mexico was brought up a number of times, he even discussed players from Europe playing in Quebec’s CGEP system. The international idea even came up when fans asked various ratio related questions (more on that next), which seemed a little odd since those were about Canadians.

3. Ratio rules

At least among this small sample size of fans, it seems that the ratio is something that is important to league supporters. During the hour long question period, three separate questions were asked about the ratio. Could it be reduced to six? Should Americans who play in USports get National status and if long serving veteran players should be granted national status too. It didn’t seem like Ambrosie has been looking into major ratio overhaul based on his answers, but perhaps it’s something the league might look at now.

4. Headshots and concussions

This was the question I was waiting for. In the past, the media session with the commissioner has seen plenty of questions regarding headshots and concussions. It hasn’t come up much with the fans, if at all. This year, it didn’t directly come up, only the idea of tweaking the challenge system and using the command centre rather than another official came up. Considering some high profile headshots this year, it felt like this might be the year someone asked a tougher question, guess not. It’s too bad, not that the answer particularly matters, but if the league sees their paying customer asking these questions, and not just the media, that should prompt change. Maybe next year.

5. Marketing matters

After the ratio, people really wanted to talk about how the league is marketing itself. There were questions surrounding coming up with new slogans with the popular examples of the 1990s being used, players appearing in more commercials and merchandise for a wider range of people. This is certainly an on-going thing that many of us have been talking about. I’m not sure if players in commercials would really make that big of a difference, but more exposure the better, right?

All in all, the event should be taken for what it is. It’s more of a show than a serious information gathering sessions and that’s ok, it is for the fans after all. It’s an event that allows the fans to feel like they’re a part of this league, which is something the CFL has always done well. If you haven’t gone yet, it’s worth checking out.

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