As rumours continue to swirl that the CFL is considering a possible conversion to four downs, commissioner Randy Ambrosie joined The Sportscage in Regina to dismiss the controversy.
“The thing is, it’s not even where our conversation is right now,” Ambrosie said ahead of his Randy’s Road Trip appearance at Mosaic Stadium.
“We are looking at it at the highest level. Fun, fast, entertaining football, that’s what we want to have. The conversation we’re going to have is how do we take this game of ours and how do we massage it? What do we change?”
In typical fashion, the CFL head honcho avoided an explicit denial that a fourth down could be on the table in the future with predictable platitudes.
It was reported in December that the league would be reviewing all aspects of its game, including the number of downs. Earlier this week, those fears were revived following a report that the league’s much heralded new partner, Genius Sports, was pushing for the fundamental shift in the way the game is played.
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. However, the company denied in a statement that it had provided any input on game-play.
Ambrosie insists that the CFL is focused on much smaller changes, following a national survey in January which showed Canadian sports fans would like better game flow and action from the CFL game. Narrower hashmarks, amendments to restrictions on blocking below the waist outside the tackle box, and a review of the play clock are all on the table according to the commissioner, but he does believe fans need to be far less resistant to change.
“You put the Grey Cup up, everyone knows that’s the CFL. Take a look at that. That’s not a football trophy. That’s a rugby trophy,” Ambrosie chided.
“Can you imagine back in the day all the rugby people going: ‘Are you idiots gonna give away our trophy to a bunch of football people?’ Our biggest symbol is actually a symbol of change and we need to embrace that.”
You heard it here first, folks. What defines the CFL isn’t three downs or a 110-yard field, apparently it’s your willingness to give those up without a fight.