Friday, June 24, 2016

Argos (CFL) land on TFC turf with a thud

Two things.

I know I have written about this before, but it is both timely and important to restate my sports history. I started my life as an Argo fan. My father emigrated to Canada in 1952 and it was Canadian football that he adopted as his spectator sport. He kept his love of soccer and was an avid golfer, but he loved his Argo football. Soccer would rise back to the top when the World Cup had a team from England, but soccer was not easily followed otherwise.

I have long claimed that the first Argos game I ever attended was the Calgary Stampeders defeating Toronto 50-0 (Sunday September 22, 1963). Somehow I think my dad took me to games earlier than that. I would have been 6 years old that day (and a Kennedy was US president).
When my father died in 1992, it was a huge factor in deciding to drop our Argos season tickets. The other factors would include raising a young family AND the decline in CFL football in the Toronto market by then. We felt like the last hold outs in 1993. Soccer and basketball were going to be the sports that I coached and the sports that I followed. 

The section below was also shared as a contribution to a forum on the Red Patch Boys site. I read and post there regularly. 

It was weird.
I attended the Argo game at BMO. I did not sit in my regular section, was down in 119, so I can't really comment on the crowd size. It did not look like a sellout. Before half time I spotted somebody from the stadium security staff collecting up the Argo t shirts draped on the seats in the south end that had not been occupied. It seemed a fair collection of shirts.
The pitch looked in fine condition - all along I have been worried about October-November impact on the pitch, not the June-July honeymoon. Overall I felt my TFC fan sensibilities were protected, the Argo invasion is dialed low, every Argo signage was a temp cover, you did not feel that the stadium could be stopped from bouncing back in a day or two.
The highlight had to be The Shipyard - the pre-game licensed area where $4 Buds are cold and the chance to throw a football at a target truly got this old man ready for a night of Canadian football. However the line-ups for food were too long and became motivation for getting to the stadium early where the poutine line was incredibly short.

The lowlights - I am picking two. The Argos have no ideas on how to promote their players. No stats on the screen, you have no idea who is a vet Argo and who is a rookie. Who comes from a high profile college and who comes from an obscure one. If you arrived having no name awareness of players, you leave the same way. They are crying out for an app that fans can dip into for player info and stats. And better use of the scoreboard.
The other lowlight has to be the Ti-Cat fans. I was sitting in a section dominated by them. I salute their dedication to their team, but it can seem sometimes that TC love is competing with Argo hate in their heads. Which underlines, in my thin book, a scary situation. It seems a very old demographic, a rough and ready lunch bucket group, and they can seem as if they have been sealed underground since 1983. Hating the Argos without understanding that the Argos are not even on the sports radar for the VAST majority of Torontonians just seemed weird. It was as if they were incredibly proud of the ability to punch air. And the few dedicated Argo fans around all seemed as if they had been sealed in the same 1983 underground chamber. 

My sports passions are the world of soccer, TFC and the Raptors. The Euro has been fantastic and I was using my phone to figure out how the NBA draft was proceeding last night. The dedicated TiCat and Argo faithful seemed to be people who would NEVER have an interest in those topics. Could they provide a take on how the Brexit vote was going in the UK or plans for the summer or an interesting non-CFL antecdote? They just seemed like a sub-culture hanging on to something that used to be mainstream. I salute the attempt to revive the Argos, wish it was happening in a dedicated stadium, but money losers (Argos) can't be choosers. The CFL problem in Toronto is not going to snap back with the stadium switch band aid and $4 Buds...they may stave off the next stage of decline for a while, but the Argos have truly lost their bounce....


Duncan Green said...

nice article...but unlike yourself im pro TFC and anti cfl...its easy to be anti cfl, no name players Joe Theismann is the last big name i can remember playing for them..other then that no name talent..and lets be honest with the BFL in Buffalo, Detroit, Pittaburgh and Philadelphia
all withing driving distance of toronto, why would anyone really pay to watch the CFL..all the CFL is full of is canadian collage players who are not that good and failed us collage players that could not make the nfl..until the CFL drops the canadian content and spens to get top name talent..the cfl will always be the joke that it is..

Mark Kennedy said...

Thanks for the compliment on the article Duncan.
Not sure of your description that I am not pro TFC and anti CFL.
I have been writing this blog about TFC for as long as TFC has existed. I have been a TFC season ticket holder since day 1. The game last night was the first CFL game I have attended since the dawn of TFC. I don't watch CFL on tv.
I did feel the need to tell the story of my dad and my childhood. Long ago my dad and I were Argo season ticket holders - he died 24 years ago.
I don't fully know why TFC soccer has risen to the top of my sports fan list, but then exploring something you don't fully understand helps keep me blogging.
I agree with you partially, that part of the Toronto fan turn against the CFL is due to player quality. I think that the vastly superior television presentation of the NFL has just as much to do with it. If you are going to follow a team and go to see them play once a year, NFL beats CFL every time. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

Ignirtoq said...

I will say as a born and bred Hamiltonian, I can say that the Toronto-Hamilton rivalry is pretty much one-way. Hamilton gets few opportunities to one-up the giant neighbours, and they take it where they can get them. So it's the 3 games the Ticats and Argos have every season.

That being said, I've often doubted that there are Argos fans who feel the same way as Ticat fans about the rivary. Or, at least in numbers.

Not excusing whatever behaviour Ticat fans said/did, but this is how we're taught. I will also say, that Ticat fans would never want the Argos to disappear, as some Ticat fans wouldn't know who to channel their ire towards.