Genius Sports denies pushing CFL to play four-down football

Photo courtesy: CFL

Genius Sports has denied pushing the CFL to make the transition to four-down football in a statement they provided to Mark Stephen of CHQR Radio in Calgary.

Reached out to Genius Sports to see if they were pressuring the CFL on rule changes. Statement reads, in part, “…made no suggestions to the CFL on changes to game play including any rule changes. … Our focus is on helping to drive audience growth, fan engagement and innovation with the CFL and our partners…”

The statement came two days after Sportsnet’s Arash Madani reported that CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie had told team representatives that there was a “real push towards four downs” from Genius Sports.

Ambrosie has recently made stops in Calgary and Regina amid a cross-country tour designed to allow fans and members of the media to engage with him face-to-face. He has been asked about the league potentially playing four-down football numerous times and has yet to rule out the possibility.

“There’s no hidden agenda here. There’s no secret society of CFL people that are organizing to attack our game. There actually is a group of phenomenally talented coaches and presidents that are deeply committed to our league, and the process that I’ve described is genuine, authentic and real,” Ambrosie told a fan, as per Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post.

“We’re going to bring super-smart people into the room and have them have that conversation about all the things that we might do to make sure that when Rider fans come to Rider games, they leave thrilled because they saw an amazing, entertaining game. That’s what we’re undertaking in our process.”

It was reported in December that the league would be reviewing all aspects of its game, including the numbers of downs. The news received backlash from many fans and former players with Alex Singleton and Damon Allen speaking out against it again in recent days.

Genius Sports is a sports data and technology company based in the United Kingdom. It owns a minority stake in the league’s new commercial arm, CFL Ventures, which allows it to profit off the revenue it is intended to help create.

The high-profile firm is set to provide everything from tailored marketing research to revolutionary new broadcast technologies, as well as spear-heading the CFL’s approach to legal sports gambling. It is not, however — according to them — trying to get the league to switch to four-down football.