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‘Progress, not perfection’: CFL Commissioner talks about improvements to the league

Click to play video: 'Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers to face off at Grey Cup Championship'
Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers to face off at Grey Cup Championship
WATCH: The 109th annual battle for the Grey Cup between the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers takes place in Regina Sunday, Nov. 20. – Nov 18, 2022

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie took time on Friday during the Grey Cup Festival to talk about the state of football, and touch on the improvements the league is making.

“I’m talking about progress, not perfection,” Ambrosie noted.

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He spoke about the importance of the players’ health, noting that they’ve had zero repeat concussions this year.

Ambrosie said they are working to understand concussions, how they happen, and how to prevent them going forward.

“One of the real features of our league is we’ve got our injury spotter, and we had four times where we had the injury spotter call for that player to be removed from the game,” Ambrosie said.

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He said it’s a tough decision whether to pull a player from a game, but added that the sole purpose of the injury spotter is to take the player’s health into consideration.

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Ambrosie noted they also have mental health supports, saying that they have a screening process for players coming out of training camp, with each team also having a consultant on staff.

He also delved into the business side of things, noting that they’ve had increased engagement online.

“Things like the number of online page views, it’s up five per cent this year. In fact, we had more online page views this year at the end of the regular season than we had last year in the total year.”

Ambrosie said they’ve been gaining some traction on social media, and have launched five free-to-play games, which is part of their digital transformation.

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“The world of fandom is changing so much.”

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He noted that they’ve been building a foundation to start bouncing back from the pandemic.

Ambrosie said he expects to have a substantially improved economic situation when it comes to the U.S. media rights negotiations in 2026, adding that there have been some very positive conversations.

He noted that they are working to harness the fandom from NCAA players coming to play for the CFL.

“Things like revenue sharing; things like the seven-year collective bargaining agreement which lets us be partners with the players as opposed to constantly bargaining and being adversaries; the partnership with Genius Sports and the chance to create a real platform for long-term marketing success, our marketable fans strategy.”

“Everywhere I look around the league I see positives, there’s certainly work to be done.”

Looking forward, Ambrosie said they are aiming to announce the 2023 schedule at the end of December.

He said they’re starting to plan for their league meetings and teased that they are working to develop some content projects that are well underway.

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“I want our fans to see nine teams, then 10, and we’ll be starting that conversation about our tenth and our commitment to expansion.”

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