Writing in The Rambler in March 1750, bibliographer extraodinare Samuel Johnson noted, “That the mind of man is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity”. We may be some 267 years advanced from when that was written and yet just that sentiment was reflected in a recent interview with the National Post given by commissioner Randy Ambrosie who had a message for CFL fans. They needed to be looking forward and they needed to think big, “We literally need to set our sights on a big, gigantic, enormous Canadian Football League” he said during the interview.
It is not as though those fans are without passion. In March of this year dear reader I for one was to discover that. I wrote a piece extolling the virtues of the league but miscalculated in titling it ‘the little league that can’. http://www.nflgirluk.com/2017/03/04/cfl-the-little-league-that-can/ Whilst that was a reference to the relative size of the league, 9 teams to the NFL’s 32, some of those passionate fans took umbrage. In the UK ‘little league’ does not have the same negative connotations as it clearly can in North America. Lesson learned, but also a smile raised to see the passion and dedication of those fans who sensed a slight against their league.
In the interview in question Ambrosie went on to say he wants to take the league to a new level, and part of that may be through expansion, a subject that has been talked about for years in the CFL but with little real direction.
Whilst not everything the new commissioner has done has turned to gold it is clear that he is truly engaged with the fans and the CFL community. He is not afraid to talk about a range of subjects from poor attendances in Toronto, to potential rule and player ratio changes, and alterations to the playoff format. Even though he personally favours the East-West format it appears that everything, including this, is up for discussion.
Samuel Johnson would no doubt have recognised something of the restless spirit in Ambrosie. After all he also wrote, ‘He that directs his steps to a certain point, must frequently turn his eyes to that place which he strives to reach; he that undergoes the fatigue of labour, must solace his weariness with the contemplation of its reward’. For Ambrosie, who has responded well to issues as they have arrived, perhaps the off-season will mark a chance to take a lead and work for that reward – the growing of the league and game he clearly loves.
It is time for CFL fans to be optimistic. The league is a great product. We have seen a season of fantastic on field action (anyone who captions great catches from the NFL with the subtitle ‘only in the NFL’ clearly hasn’t been paying attention for example), and intriguing off field story lines – as we always do & now it would be nice to think positively and accept that the future is bright. So with that in mind let us leave the last words then to Ambrosie from that same interview: “I think sometimes we’re hard on ourselves as a league, and sometimes we deserve to be hard on ourselves, but sometimes we forget how fundamentally important we are to Canada,” he said. “We’re totally woven into the DNA of this country, and that has been an amazing part of this journey these past four months, coming to understand how important that is.”