U Sports and the Canadian Football League experienced nearly identical decreases in regular season scoring coming off cancelled 2020 seasons.
Though the numbers changed dramatically from conference to conference, scoring at the U Sports level was down 13.3 percent on a per game basis in 2021.
Ontario University Athletics (OUA) averaged 55.7 points per game in 2019 and 43.0 points per game in 2021. Atlantic University Sport (AUS) experienced an even bigger decrease, averaging 47.0 points per game in 2019 and 32.3 points per game in 2021.
Scoring remained virtually unchanged in Canada West, going from 53.2 points per game in 2019 to 53.8 points per game in 2021. The Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) bucked the trend entirely with a scoring increase from 41.3 points per game in 2019 to 46.4 points per game in 2021.
The CFL experienced a 12.9 percent decrease in scoring from 49.5 points per game in 2019 to 43.1 points per game in 2021. It’s a small sample size — one season across two levels of football — but it not might be pure coincidence that scoring dropped by almost identical percentages following the pandemic.
There are many theories regarding why the CFL saw a drop in scoring in 2021 — Calgary Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson blames the scheme and speed of CFL defences — but this is at least one indication that the year off is to blame.
We’ll have a better handle on the state of CFL scoring after its 2022 season, but the league has historically been an offence-oriented, high-scoring league. Should the rules be tweaked to help improve scoring? Maybe, but the CFL should probably wait a year before making drastic alterations to the game.
The NFL played through the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced an 8.1 percent spike in scoring from 45.6 points per game in 2019 to 49.6 points per game in 2020. Scoring has decreased in 2021 with an average of 46.2 points per game, though the league is still on pace for its fifth-highest scoring season in league history.
Canadian football at the amateur and professional levels is at its best when teams are racking up yardage and points by the bucketful. Here’s hoping that the 2021 season was a one-year, pandemic-induced blip for U Sports and the CFL as they return to their high-flying ways in 2022.