Will Canadian Football Ever Reach the Heights of the NFL? 

There’s no question that the NFL is the biggest sport in North America and the USA. Americans love watching the Super Bowl and are avid fans of the NFL season all year long. The league is easily the most valuable in the world thanks to highly marketable superstarsBetting on the NFL and especially the Super Bowl adds to the league’s popularity, with millions splashed casually at every final. 

In the past few years, there has been another popular league in North America emerging – the CFL. The Canadian Football League may not be as nearly as big as the NFL, but it’s an integral part of Canada’s sports identity. The Gray Cup is by far Canada’s largest sports and TV event every year. However, even with millions of fans, can Canadian football ever challenge the NFL? 

A Long History Behind It 

The CFL may have emerged in the past decade, but it has been big in Canada for decades. Established in 1958, the popularity of the Gray Cup, CFL’s version of a Super Bowl, made it popular outside the North American country too. While it can’t compare to the global reach of the NFL, the CFL still has a solid base of fans. 

Foreign coverage TV deals have definitely helped it grow. For example, EPSN has a long history with the CFL. The first game broadcasted on the network was in 1980 when ESPN was still not a year old. The rights for CFL games returned to the popular sports network in 2013, with the deal renewed for another five years in 2014. 

Later expansions to Brazil via ESPN have helped the league grow in new markets. In 2019, CFL signed a deal with MSC Comunicaciones for one game a week to be streamed in Mexico. Other broadcasting arrangements and Internet streams have made the CFL bigger than ever before. However, compared to the NFL, it still only caters to a small market which isn’t that big outside of Canada. 

Miles to Walk 

The general consensus is that the CFL needs NFL star power in order to grow. So far, the list of popular NFL players who have made the jump to Canada include O.J. Brigance, Jeff Garcia, Mervyn Fernandes, and Brandon Bowner. There have been plenty of talented players going in the other direction, and as new talent emerges, the popularity of CFL will rise further. 

Of course, an NFL star could make all the difference by moving to the CFL. There was a lot of talk about Colin Caepernick signing with a CFL team last summer, but things have been mum so far. No young player will choose the CFL instead of the NFL for financial and marketing reasons, but a player at the sunset of his career very well might. 

That will be a move that the CFL needs to become a true NFL competitor. As soon as one NFL players heads to Canada, others will follow, and that may be the start of a new chapter in CFL’s long history. 

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

Comments are closed.