Ambrosie believes Canadian ratio answer lies in bigger and stronger league

Photo courtesy: Drew Edwards

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has shared his views on changing the Canadian ratio.

“To start I always go back to this is why we have to talk to the players and we have to work this out with the PA because this is so central to who we are,” Ambrosie said on Sportsnet’s The Lede podcast with Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt.

“I feel plenty loyal. I get up every morning and put my own Canadian flag on and I have no problem that I love this country, I love the Canadian players that play in it, but I think the answer lies in the bigger and stronger this league is the more future there will be for Canadian football players.”

Both the CFL and CFLPA are in favour of reducing the number of national starters after the issue was raised during labour negotiations, per 3DownNation insider Just Dunk and his sources. While a final decision has yet to be made, there appears to be a consensus on the topic from collective bargaining agreement discussions.

“You have to actually take a step back, this is not really, entirely about the CFL, it’s how do we grow university sports. They’re finding it harder to find enough players because we are seeing a decline in the number of high schools that are playing. So we have to think bigger, we have to redefine what problem we’re trying to solve, perhaps our problem is we were trying to solve for a small problem,” Ambrosie said.

“But really if we lifted our head up we realize the problem is different than the one we were solving for. Like any good business you have to think about your supply chain. You could have a great product but if your supply chain is broken or your supply chain is compromised in some way you may not be able to get to manufacturing the product that you want.”

Currently, seven of the 24 starters on offence and defence must be nationals, part of the 21 non-imports on the 44-man game day roster. But those numbers might change at the bargaining table. From the league’s perspective, there are personnel men and coaches who believe there is a lack of depth among Canadian players which makes it difficult to field quality national talent for an entire season.

“It is not defining the opportunity based on this small paradigm but the bigger one. How about how many Canadian players get to play football around the world as a redefinition of our success? I want to create an opportunity for more players to play football and redefine this so that we create a bigger opportunity set,” Ambrosie said.

“So kids that are in junior high want to play high school football and they want to play university football, they want to play junior football because at the other end of the continuum I might play in the CFL if I’m really good, but I’ve got this other world of football and this is the experiential generation. What they are doing is their travelling and they’re taking in experiences.”

Last time the ratio dropped came after the American expansion teams folded and the number of Canadian starters went from 10 to seven. And it remains to be seen how the makeup of rosters will be impacted by the league’s CFL 2.0 strategy which aims to incorporate players from around the globe. That’s to be hammered out at the bargaining table.

“We have a giant Canadian flag on. But we’re thinking about this in the biggest way possible, so more kids can play the game of football and go to France, go to Germany, go to Mexico and get a couple years of football,” Ambrosie said.

“So by thinking about the responsibility this league has as a leader in football, is to say how do we work with university sports? How do we encourage more kids to play high school football? How do we make sure we’re helping them grow? And when you look at it through that lens I think some new and innovative answers can surface.”