Just this past week, the CFL announced a partnership with a German football league. This came on the heels of the CFL holding a Mexican combine and draft in January in conjunction with the league’s new CFL 2.0 initiative spearheaded by commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
However you feel about these partnerships is immaterial. They’re here — and more are probably coming — so let’s move on from debating whether they are a good idea or not and focus on one item in particular that no one seems to have an answer for at this point in time.
How should these new players from Mexico, Germany, etc. be classified should they make a CFL roster?
It has been a point of contention amongst a lot of people, from fans to players, with no clarity being given by the league as of yet.
But the very clear answer has been staring us all in the face since this whole CFL 2.0 endeavour was announced.
Make them internationals.
The CFL has two designations for players, nationals and internationals. Nationals are basically Canadians (with a couple exceptions) and internationals are, almost quite literally, everyone else.
The international designation usually applies mostly to Americans, but there are some players who are internationals that are not American. Boris Bede, kicker for the Montreal Alouettes, is a good example of this. Bede counts as an international because he’s from France. He moved to the US as a teen, played high school football in Massachusetts, and played his university football in Quebec at Laval. Bede is not American, but he’s not Canadian either, so he falls under the international designation.
So why can’t the Mexican, German or players from anywhere else be the same? Bede had to beat out Canadian and American competition to get his job with the Als, so why not make all the players from around the world do the same, and compete on the same playing field as everyone else.
I know the idea is to grow the game, and adding these international players (ie. not Canadian or American ones) is supposed to help the league find TV deals across the globe and increase revenue. That’s all fine and good, but at what point does the product on the field possibly suffer if we make exceptions for players from Germany and Mexico and wherever else the CFL is going to look for talent. If the league can’t find a spot for Canadian quarterbacks, with a main reason being that there weren’t enough quality Canadian QBs to allow for every team to have one, they shouldn’t be giving special treatment to lesser talented players from across the world.
If these players are good enough to compete for jobs, then let them compete for jobs. If a Mexican or German player is better than his American counterpart, then so be it. But if they aren’t, they shouldn’t be given a special exception because all that does is water down the product and make the game not as good. The CFL already deals with narrow-minded folks who think the talent isn’t good enough; there is no need to give them even more ammo by forcing teams to carry undeserving players just to help score a few extra bucks.
The soon-to-expire CBA states that a national player is a Canadian citizen when they sign their first CFL contract, was considered a national prior to May 31, 2014 (basically the Josh Bartel exemption) or someone who was a resident of Canada for five years prior to turning 18. An international player is literally described as “a player other than one referred to in paragraph 6 above” which was the paragraph that outlined what a national player was.
I know the CBA will expire before the start of the next season, so a lot of stuff could change,
but if business needs to operate as usual until there is a new CBA — as we have all been told by the league shills we all see on social media — then why are we even discussing how to classify these incoming international players when we already have a rule telling us how they should be classified?
There are plenty of things that make me scratch my head about this whole CFL 2.0 thing, but the one area we should really not have to debate is how these players will be classified should they make a CFL roster this summer.
They’re internationals, by league definition or any other you want to find.