Football: Seizing on the grassroots gridiron groundswell in GTA

David Naylor made a good point last week in a post on the death of the International Bowl. There is passion for football in Toronto, but it's not reflected in attendance at pro or collegiate games.
" ... the death of the International Bowl speaks to a much larger issue -- the complete financial failure of every football venture in Canada’s largest market.

"The International Bowl? Dead.

"The Vanier Cup? Moved from the Big Smoke because of lack of interest.

"The Buffalo Bills playing once a season? No Thanks.

"The CFL’s Toronto Argonauts? They haven’t turned a profit since this year’s class of college seniors were in diapers.

"Meanwhile, the football programs at York University and the University of Toronto are traditionally at the very bottom in terms of on-field success and support in the stands."
However, there is a silver lining:
"... High school football in Toronto is right now making a strong comeback. And as for anyone who might suggest Toronto’s multicultural nature is responsible for a football malaise, well forget it. Immigrants now make up the biggest area of growth in football at the grass roots, a trend that is apparent at the high school, collegiate and professional levels in Canada."
The question, from a CIS and OUA perspective, is if/when the programs in the GTA will reflect such growing interest, instead of Toronto and York being 1-55 (you could look it up) against all other opponents across the past four seasons. The talent pool, though, is not among the obstacles York and U of T face in football.

Football's decline in Toronto (Naylor's Sideline View)
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  1. Good topic, as usual. The collective records of the Lions/Yoemen and Blues clearly work against their current recruiting efforts. However, I can't help but wonder if the systemic problems in the GTA don't actually reside at the AD and Board of Governers level.

    If a program isn't encouraged internally then what chance do they have when trying to compete against motivated external actors? Western's Athletic and Recreation Department were actually engaged in a public internal spat during the concluding years of the Haylor era. The first-year Orientation Planning Organization effectively froze the football Stangs out of the O-week celebration--personal opinion: O-week is too big deal at Western. If memory serves, Michael Lysko and the administration had a huge falling out over that and other issues. It eventually led to Lysko being bought out of his remaining contract . . . or something like that.

    The point being that if the university administration isn't on board with a venture, even one as historically important as varsity football, success on the field may be impossible. I don't see a way out for the GTA schools, the competitive imbalance is just too great.


  2. The problems very well might be with the admins.

    Naylor did make a good point, it's not that there aren't some football players in the GTA ... look at the Laurier, Ottawa, Western, Queen's rosters and you'll see they have a pipeline into Toronto.

    I don't know if there is a way out for York. Toronto still has a chance.