Matt Sekeres: reporting on potential CFL-XFL partnership ‘has been insufficient so far’

Matt Sekeres is dying to learn what will come of a potential partnership between the CFL and XFL.

It’s been three weeks since the two sides supposedly began “talking about talking” and we don’t know much more now than we did then.

“Dave Naylor and Farhan Lalji at TSN are two of my closest friends — two of my best friends in the business, wonderful allies and collaborators for a number of years,” said Sekeres on the 3DownNation Podcast.

“They’re great friends and I respect the hell out of them as reporters but I’ve said to Dave and Farhan, ‘Guys, your reporting on this has been insufficient so far. You seem to know some things. You seem to have a certainty on Twitter in your analysis and tone of commentary that this was absolutely needed — well, then prove it to me.'”

Sekeres used to write for The Globe and Mail where he and Naylor worked together to break the story that David Braley owned two different CFL teams. He feels as though the lack of national coverage of the league has led to a lack of information being available to fans.

“Because of the way corporate media has concentrated in this country over the last ten years or so, we don’t have the same number of reporters covering the league at a national level, covering the business of the Canadian Football League like we used to,” said Sekeres.

“We don’t have that same level of media scrutiny on the league and the league head office at a national level that we had. In fact, if not for 3DownNation, TSN would probably be the only outlet covering the Canadian Football League from a national level.”

There has been speculation that the CFL could risk collapsing unless it merges with the XFL. While there is no doubt the league is struggling financially in markets such as Toronto and B.C., the league has yet to demonstrate its lack of viability in a transparent way.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie told the House of Commons finance committee that the league loses $10 to $20 million each season in May 2020. The CFL has not yet since publicized any financial information indicating a need for outside help.

“Great rule of journalism — show, don’t tell. Give us the details on why all of this was necessary,” said Sekeres.

“I do sort of feel [Naylor and Lalji] have a solemn responsibility — with not only a half-century of combined experience covering the Canadian football league — but also being positioned at TSN with the league’s partner and programmer that they’ve got to get the story out. They’ve got to let journalism and the editorial side guide their coverage of this story so we know what we’re looking at as CFL fans.”

A merging of the CFL and XFL could bring about the end of professional three-down football in Canada, a tradition that stretches back almost 150 years. Fans are worried about losing the uniqueness of the Canadian game and Sekeres acknowledges he may be expecting too much information too soon.

“It may well be that I’m just a little too impatient, a little too hasty wanting this information. This is meaningful to me. The CFL holds a really, really special place in my heart and a really, really special place in Canadian culture. I’ve always thought of the Grey Cup as the single greatest annual Canadian unity meeting that we have,” said Sekeres.

“I sure hope this works out for the best. I’m eager to know more about the conditions that were at play when this agreement was entered and what’s to come because I think it’s one of the more consequential Canadian sports stories that we’ve seen this decade.”

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