While no one knows what will happen with the NFL, the commissioner of the CFL admitted on Thursday that a cancelled season is likely.
While there is no direct correlation between the actions of the Canadian Football League and the National Football League, it is true that both professional sports organizations are trying to figure out the best response to the COVID-19 epidemic, in terms of both health, safety, and economics. On Thursday, an interesting admission came from CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie who admitted that the most likely scenario for the league is no season at all.
The CFL starts much, much earlier than the NFL and has an even longer season even though there are only 9 total teams involved. The CFL preseason was originally set to begin later this month, on May 24, with the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers facing off. Meanwhile, the final games of the long regular season—an incredible 21 weeks—were supposed to wrap on Halloween weekend with the postseason coming thereafter. Last year’s Grey Cup was played in late November.
This becomes very interesting because the CFL starts earlier than the NFL, but it runs concurrent for most of the regular season. For the CFL to be considering a complete cancellation of a season rather than even pushing things back to the fall—when the NFL is planning to go given the schedule release—is very interesting.
Of course, the variables in play are not the same at all. The leagues in no way have to mirror each other. The NFL later start date works well in its favor if more time is needed for testing and contact tracing. Experimental options could keep the NFL rolling in ways the CFL could not given its need to start so quickly.
The only clear thing at this point is that there’s a very interesting juxtaposition in play right now between two leagues playing the same sport. On the very same day that the NFL is milking its 2020 schedule announcement for all its worth, with games planned out like the world is normal, our neighbors to the north are on the verge of cancelling their season. No one knows at this juncture what approach is best as every sport simply waits, watches, and adapts accordingly. These divergent plans make it very clear that sports in 2020 is anyone’s guess.