Editorializing: 'Bush league' mentality begets cheating

It is totally kismet that a big-city paper called out the lack of promotion of CIS the day after it shot itself in the foot by fanning the flames of the post-Waterloo witchhunt.
"Canada's universities, against all odds and without the benefit of giant scholarships, are producing top-notch athletes.

"In fact, this year there are more CIS-trained football players at National Football League camps than Canadians trained in the NCAA. Four CIS Canadian rookies — one each from Wilfrid Laurier University, Concordia, Bishop's and Waterloo — are trying out in the top football league in the world. Currently, four CIS-trained athletes ply their trade in the NFL: again one each from the University of Western Ontario, Manitoba, Sherbrooke and Regina.

"But this excellence is not confined to football. For years NCAA teams have done some early barnstorming in Canada in August and early September against CIS men's and women's teams. The Carleton Ravens men's basketball team has played many Division 1 U.S. teams, including formidable clubs such as Louisville and Kansas. The level of CIS men's basketball is superb, as the last three national championships at Scotiabank Place have shown.


"Canadian sports fans need to update their education on university sports. CIS football teams play some of the most entertaining and skilful games in this country. The same can be said for Canadian university basketball. With fewer resources than south of the border, Canadian teams can play with and sometimes defeat U.S. rivals.

"Still, Canadian sports fans should not be overly criticized for not knowing the quality of CIS sports. Quite often the venues where the games take place are second rate. For example, University of Ottawa football games have been held at Frank Clair Stadium, part of which was dynamited because of structural decay. The remaining stands are no picnic.

"And unlike their U.S. counterparts, Canadian universities do little to promote their excellent sports or provide a professional game presentation. The presentation of Canadian university sports is so bush league that it takes away from the excellent product on the field or the court. No wonder fans stay away." — Ottawa Citizen
That is bang on, at the risk of preaching to the converted (Mark Twain: "When you find you are on the side of the majority... ").

It sort of identifies two virulent strains that colour a lot of the popular perception of CIS and its kneejerk reactions to controversy.

One is this simplistic belief that Canada can have an identity simply by resisting anything American, like the love of collegiate sports. The other is pathological Boomer nostalgia, the belief modern problems can be solved by trying to restore everything to how it was in 1978 or 1960 or whenever. A lot of the horror came from insisting it's 1955 after being told it's 2010. It is the ultimate in urinating in someone's ear and telling her/him it's raining. Right, Mr. Valeriote?

That is a big part of the fallout from Waterloo and CIS carrying on it like selective enforcement alone can solve its so-called steroid problem.

Tripling the number of off-season tests and acting a few drug cheats in football is the only issue with the product is a small solution.

A bigger part is working to generate interest and revitalize week-to-week interest, particularly in football, which has been made a focal point. There is so much which could be done (I've had a post mentally written for weeks).

You might say that's unrelated, but an organism only grows if it exposes itself to light.

The Citizen, bless 'em, provided a nice jumping-off point to argue that a more professionally run CIS would reduce the likelihood of another Waterloo. You can't draw any conclusions about a quote-unquote clean or dirty program, but it jumps out that the busted players are at schools which have tended to scuffle year-in year-out in football. Acadia hasn't been to the Vanier Cup since 1981; Windsor has never won the Yates Cup outright; Waterloo's two Yates wins were both improbable and during an era in which OUA football trailed the rest of the country.

The QUFL, which is the best-run and most passionate supported football conference, did not have a positive test. Neither have the it-getters in Canada West such as Calgary and Saskatchewan ("the only place to play in Western Canada"). You have to wonder.

Anyway, it is high time a major media outlet pointed out people missed the fact CIS is coming of age.

There is so much more that could have been in there, like something about the great sportswomen (Olympic gold medallist bobsledder Heather Moyse played rugby at Waterloo!). Please don't pick nits with Carleton being held up as the good example and uOttawa being cited as a bad example; it is what it is.

One would hope CIS movers and shakers would make the connection, and realize it does have some advocates out there. Perhaps that would lead it toward seeking a new direction, instead of trying to appease people who will never get it with university sport.

Read more:
Educate sports fans (Ottawa Citizen, via cishoops.ca, which is the only way I am ever going to see a newspaper editorial)
Is there a really a steroid problem in university sport? (Justin McElroy, Macleans OnCampus)
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