Grey Cup: Canadians just aren’t that into ya

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t pay much attention to football. Yes, write to the newspaper and insist on my firing.

As you can imagine, I didn’t pay much attention to the Grey Cup game on Sunday. And it’s not because I have no interest (well, maybe a little), it’s because I was in Los Angeles at the American Music Awards. It was a rare case of duelling events where I had to go where the money was: L.A.

I had the opportunity to go to Calgary to follow the Blue Bombers and their 29-year journey for the coveted Grey Cup. I could’ve been another Manitoba face in amongst the blue and gold supporters cheering loudly in the stands. Alas, I was in California with the screaming music fans at the AMAs.

My takeaways from the game — outside of the actual sports action — were that overpriced tickets kept people away (attendance was reportedly the second lowest since 1999) or people simply had no interest in the game. Also, Aussie Keith Urban was brought in to perform at the Canadian football game’s halftime show. (And this isn’t a shot at Urban because he’s a great music artist. But, uh, no Canuck performer?)

There are plenty of legendary and even up-and-coming Canadian musicians who would’ve been great on the Grey Cup stage. The questions always remain: Were they unavailable? Did they say no? It certainly couldn’t be that they were commanding too much money because, well, ahem, Urban?

Presumably the game was shown on more TVs and devices in the Winnipeg and Hamilton areas since those were the teams battling it out in the final. That probably led to an overall party vibe in the respective areas (Winnipeg much louder throughout the game, I would assume) so there’s no denying interest was at a fevered pitch on Sunday night. As for the rest of the country, I checked in with fellow Canadians and not many were tuned into the game.

As of press time, ratings for Grey Cup weren’t in but if the headlines from 2018 were any indication (“Grey Cup ratings on TSN down a whopping 23 per cent”) the trend is, as they say, people just aren’t into ya. If there is an uptick in viewership, will it be maintained year over year or was this a one-off since both teams in the finals were on Cup losing streaks for years? In other words, did people tune in this year only to watch the losing-est teams play?

I can’t help but hear more people are interested in NFL football than the nine teams that slug it out in the CFL. I don’t know anything about the sport but there must be differences if one country’s version of the game is more appealing than the other. (Feb. 9, 2019 headline: “After Grey Cup ratings tank, Super Bowl viewership jumps.”)

In fact, I seem to notice more ads for NFL football games throughout the week than CFL matches. Are the Canadian broadcasters just not into Canadian football either? Then again, money talks so if NFL gets more eyeballs, I understand why that gets the white-glove treatment on the sports airwaves.

Nevertheless, there was a sense of unity, at least in Winnipeg, on Sunday and spilling into the week. Longtime fans and those recent bandwagon jumpers will be able to celebrate the home team because the win has certainly breathed new life into the fans who, as one sign in Calgary said, had been suffering from a case of blue balls for 29 years.

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