I have had this debate hundreds of times with my Canadian friends and I am sure many of you out there have had this same debate, possibly even with a Canadian rooting for the NFL.
As the glorious Super Bowl approaches, next time your obnoxious CFL loving friend bashes the NFL rather than wasting precious football watching time, just send him/her this article.
Three Reasons why the NFL will Always be better than the CFL
1. Talent Management - this might seem a bit obvious but next time your friend is defending the CFL, just state that no football player dreams of one day entering the CFL. Therefore, by definition the CFL is filled with cut NFL players. This is kind of like preferring to stay in the lineup to the club, rather than actually getting in.
What makes this point worth noting is not only the current state of both leagues but the future state. If my assumption above is true, and that if the world's football population is 100%, and so the NFL is the top 80%, and the CFL is the bottom 20% of the world's football athletes, then what happens if the NFL grows? The NFL has been testing the marketing in Europe and Canada and although I have no evidence to support this, but will this not drive down the available talent for the CFL?
2. No Supporting Eco Systems - Why does Apple Computers continue to succeed with new products? Because they build supporting ecosystems that get stronger as the masses shift (app store, iTunes music store, ibook store etc). Same holds true for the NFL. The NFL will only grow in the coming years because of things like Fantasy Football, Gambling and their rotation of college recruitment and hall of fame inductions.
I have no stats to back this up, but I feel like fantasy leagues are growing in popularity with the introduction of online stat tracking about 13 years ago, and now the fact that I can now manage my teams from my smartphone. It should be noted that currently the CFL does not have a fantasy league available that you could join. Why are fantasy leagues important? it turns the casual fan into a full time fan. It moves merchandise and encourages viewership - instead of being a fan to 1 team you are a fan to all of your "players" teams. It makes the games more social, you talk about the games with more passion because you feel that you are involved. Think of the influence of this on the popularity of the league, there are probably hundreds of thousands of leagues out there and at least 1 out of the 12 guys/girls in the league is just doing it because their friends are doing it. It really is like combining the power of peer pressure with business.
3. Ridiculous Rules - from what I hear, the CFL follows the same rules as Canadian high school football and Canadian University Football. However, how many CFL players come from Canadian Colleges/High Schools? According to the CFL, each team must have a minimum of 4 Canadian citizens starting? Meaning that approximately 75% of the players on the field are now forced to play a game that is different than what they have been playing their whole lives.
These differences include but are not limited to: using a much rounder ball, 3 downs instead of 4, 12 people instead of 11 and an end zone that is about 30 yards deep. In business school, they teach you about creating "barriers to entry", these are things that prevent competition from entering your market. Well it looks as if the CFL has this backwards, they have created a different set of rules to prevent American talent from choosing to enter the CFL even though they openly acknowledge that the majority of players are American.
If the CFL has any chance of surviving long term, they need to reconsider their talent recruitment process, implement some gambling or fantasy football programs to grow awareness or fan base, and either change the rules, or realize that the differences in rules are deterring American athletes from considering moving to the CFL.