skip to Main Content

Monday mailbag: government assistance, CFL attendance, rule changes

The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag answers questions from readers across the country every week.

You can submit a question by email ([email protected]) or direct message on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When submitting questions by email, please enter “Monday Mailbag” in the subject line. On social media, please start your post with the words “3DownNation Monday Mailbag”. It really helps us find and manage the questions we get.

Please note that by sending us a question, you give us the right to post it with your name. Questions can be slightly edited for spelling and / or formatting.

We’ve answered a few questions below. If your question has not been chosen, don’t panic – we’ll save it for possible answer here next week or on the 3DownNation Podcast.


Is it possible that the CFL will disclose the merger discussions with XFL to strengthen its position with the Canadian government on financial aid or stadium capacity flexibility? If they merge with the XFL, they won’t be around in three years. Americans will bet on the CFL with or without the XFL tie-in.

-Rush Sanders

Thanks for the question, Rush.

I guess anything is possible, but that’s not the reading I’m getting on a potential CFL-XFL merger. The CFL made a public statement confirming the talks in March, but has said nothing since. All the leaks about the negotiations came from the American side, not the Canadian side. This wouldn’t happen if the CFL simply used the XFL as leverage.

Let us not forget either that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, made an exclusive statement to 3DownNation last year in which he provided strong support to the CFL.

“Football and sports are an important part of the lives of many Canadians, allowing good-humored rivalries between the teams to unite the country in a common passion for the game,” he said. “We will continue to engage directly with the CFL and its teams to ensure they will be there for many years to come. Our government remains committed to working with businesses of all sizes across the country, including the CFL, to support strong, secure and sustainable recoveries.

I’m sure the CFL wants more weight in their discussions with the federal government, but I don’t think that’s the main reason these XFL talks are happening. They are real.


There has been a lot of talk about how Toronto, British Columbia and Montreal are losing a lot of money. There was also some discussion that it hasn’t always been like this with Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Ottawa once being the dogs of the league.

I wonder how much of the fortunes of the different markets rest on the market itself, or is it the way the team behaves on the pitch that is the main driver in drawing fans to the stands. From what I see, the teams that lose money are also the ones that have been losing on the pitch for many years in a row.

How consistent and stable are the markets?

-Richard Granger

Thanks for the question, Richard.

I noticed something interesting while doing a historical analysis of CFL attendance over the past fifty years. In Vancouver, attendance has generally improved after a Gray Cup victory, including BC’s most recent title in 2011. In Toronto, attendance has often dropped in the years following a championship. It’s weird.

Hamilton made the playoffs every year in the 1980s, but it was the team’s worst decade in ticket sales. Winnipeg was horrible throughout the 1970s, but attendance improved only modestly during the 1980s dynasty. Toronto attendance was low during the Doug Flutie years of the 1990s despite strong ticket sales during the 1980s. 1970s and 1980s when the team generally struggled.

There appears to be little correlation between earning and attendance. Why? I do not know. This is likely a combination of factors, including marketing and the city’s economy.

In the autobiography of Bob Ackles The water boy, he wrote that union engagement was key to generating a resurgence in ticket sales in Vancouver. He created a program in which workers could have a small percentage of their checks withheld each month and used for season tickets for the Lions. It was a popular program.

Teams don’t have to win to attract fans. They just need to involve the community and create a fun atmosphere during the games.


I love the three-way game but I wonder about certain rules. Why no yard is ever called when there is a side kick?

-Stan F.

Thanks for the question, Stan.

No yard applied only to punters, baskets or converts, not kickoffs. The ball is still alive after a kick-off after traveling ten meters. This is usually not noticeable because the receiver catches the ball so deep in his own territory.

Something I think we’ve forgotten in the midst of this discussion about the XFL merger is that the CFL changes its rules every year. The changes are usually minor, but the game never stays 100% the same. It is never “perfect” or “complete”. It’s still being tweaked and (hopefully) improved.

Let’s try to remember this when and if a merge takes place.

Back To Top