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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:05 am
Posts: 556
Location: Dallas
CIS is essentially the Canadian version of the NCAA. They play the Canadian variety of football (like the CFL) at their colleges.

Their scholarship rules are very lax and unclearly defined, although most Universities do not seem to give scholarships. The level of play is inconsistent. Some teams have basically upper FCS level talent and others have lower DIII level talent.

Fan attendance is mostly dreary. In Canada the entire football landscape is a little broken, IMO, in the exact opposite way it is in the US. In the US, football dominates everything to an unhealthy extreme --- and I love football. In Canada, it is tough sell to get folks to sit outside an watch a game in most regions. (There are pockets of relatively strong support in terms of viewership and purchasing merchandise, but in terms of actual attendance, the country seems stunted a bit.)

Is it weather? That could play a role. I suspect it has a lot more to do with the concept of pro kill-zones that I have put forth in discussing the attendance problems at US universities like SMU, Rice, and Temple and just a crappy job done by the people who run the CIS.

Football in Canada has a PR problem. In spite of the fact that the CFL is followed by 19% of canada --- second only to NHL fandom --- people do not support football with donations like they do down here and they don't go to the games. Stadia are frankly, lousy. The country is littered with stadiums that seat 1000 people and/or only have seating on one side of the feild. Little effort is put in on a university basis to sell tickets in a community.

Essentially all of the nuts and bolts that go into making a program work are simply unknown in Canada. I think you have to put the blame on the leadership (the CIS Leadership) for not educating universities and pushing for government funded programs to protect the institution of Candian football.

I have been struggling with the problem of poor attendance for the last few days and have some ideas.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:05 am
Posts: 556
Location: Dallas
"So how bad is it?"

Hold your nose and get ready for the 2008 regular season attendance numbers...

Canada West Football Conference
University Record ave att
Saskatchewan 6-2 3420
Regina 5-3 2481
Calgary 5-3 1716
Simon Fraser 5-3 1343
Manitoba 3-5 1813
British Columbia 2-6 1738
Alberta 2-6 1250

Quebec University Football League
University Record ave att
Laval 8-0 13,861
Sherbrooke 5-3 7023
Montreal 5-3 3796
Concordia 5-3 3064
Bishop's 3-5 2291
McGill 0-8 2937

Ontario University Athletics
University Record ave att
Queens 8-0 5878
Western 7-1 7183
Wilfrid Laurier 6-2 4850
McMasters 4-4 3878
Guelph 4-4 3010
Ottawa 4-4 1084
Waterloo 2-6 2350
Toronto 2-6 1896
Windsor 3-5 1818
York 0-8 250*

Atlantic University Football Conference
University Record ave att
St. Mary's 7-1 3084
St. Francis Xavier 4-4 2386
Mount Allison 2-6 1561
Acadia 1-7 1630

* York's attendance is almost certainly inaccurate. They had a reported attendance of 1000 at their first game and then reported attendance of 0 at their other 3 home games. I am not sure if this was done to disguise how poor the attendance was.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:05 am
Posts: 556
Location: Dallas
Bascially, FCS to DII level support.

Things are not as bad as they might look at first glance.

When you start looking at stadia, CFL Killzones, non-competitive games/lack of travelling fans, and whatnot things look a lot better.

non-competitive games/lack of travelling fans

Canada is very spread out and fan bases are not fervent about attending games, so overall travelling fans just doen't happen that much, but the CIS sure doesn't help things.

Canada West Football Conference
University 5 year record
Saskatchewan 31-9
Manitoba 27-13
Alberta 22-18
Regina 18-22
Calgary 17-23
British Columbia 17-23
Simon Fraser 8-30-?

Ontario University Athletics
University 5 year record
Wilfrid Laurier 35-5
Ottawa 30-10
Western 29-11
McMasters 27-13
Queens 23-17
Guelph 18-22
Windsor 18-22
Waterloo 12-27-1
York 8-32
Toronto 2-37-1

Quebec University Football League
University 5 year record
Laval 38-2
Montreal 29-11
Concordia 26-14
Sherbrooke 19-21
Bishop's 11-29
McGill 9-31

Atlantic University Football Conference
University 5 year record
St. Mary's 27-13
Acadia 19-21
St. Francis Xavier 17-23
Mount Allison 5-35

Now from looking at this, you can tell that Mt. Allison, McGill, SFU, Toronto, and York are historically bad schools and their fan bases are not all that likely to be thrilled with an upcoming schedule full of likely losses. Schools like Waterloo and Bishop's are not much better.

Additionally, those games are hard sells to opposing fans. Consider last year's least succesful team, the 0-8 York team's results.

Game 1 : (3-5) Windsor 40, @York 7
Game 2: @(4-4) Ottawa 71, York 3
Game 3: @(2-6) Toronto 58, York 7
Game 4: (7-1) Western 71, @York 0
Game 5: @ (4-4) McMaster 53, York 0
Game 6: (8-0) Queens 80, @ York 0
Game 7: @(4-4) Guelph 48, York 2
Game 8: (6-2) Laurier 50, @York 13

Now CIS teams only play an 8 game schedule and there are 10 teams in OUA. You had to have a pretty good idea that Queens and Western looked better than usual this year and your history says that Laurier, Ottawa, and western are usually the best in the conference. York played all of them. Where is the sense in that?

At minimum they should not have played one of the top schools. Maybe no Western on the schedule this year.

IMO, CIS would be wise to help programs like that climb out of ruin by matching them up with some out of conference games they might have a shot of winning. Since there are very few travelling fans and even fewer to watch a bad game, there is no loss there. Schools in Quebec and the Atlantic have to travel out of conference anyway because there aren't enoguh teams. If the CIS contributed a little to travel, you could have really undermanned teams like York play other undermanned teams and help them develop some confidence that would help the program grow to competency.

how about:
opening in OUA
- York v. Toronto
- York v. Waterloo
- York v. Windsor
- York v. Guelph
and finishing OOC
- York v. SFU
- York v. Mt. Allison
- York v. McGill
- York v. Bishop's

You let them play that kind of schedule for a while and some of those bad schools will start going 3-5, 4-4 and then you can start schuling them on a more regular schedule.

What is CIS doing to help these universities build sustainable programs? I don't see anything.

Now lets look at the flipside. It was pretty clear by week 1 that york was not going to be a very good team last season. Let's see what that did to their opponent's attendance.

Game 2: @(4-4) Ottawa 71, York 3 att: 1483
Game 3: @(2-6) Toronto 58, York 7 att: 1663
Game 5: @ (4-4) McMaster 53, York 0 att: 3285
Game 7: @(4-4) Guelph 48, York 2 att: 720

For Ottawa, it is not very different than they had in their other two games that reported attendance. I think that might have to do with a strong desire to play Ontario teams instead of Quebec teams and because it was so early in the season ---their home opener. Toronto is, of course, their cross city rival and has been equally bad. The game matched up well to toronto's other home games' attendance. The McMaster game drew 3285. McMaster average 4076 in their other 3 home games. You cost them revenue and pulled down their program a bit scheduling a non-competitive team. Same with Guelph. Thier game drew 720. Guelph's attendance fluctuated wildly, but they drew 3500 for Queens and 7292 for McMasters. (Guelph last two home games were Toronto -527 - and York - 720. Who does scheduling like that? If you have two historically bad teams in a city, a team should never host both of them at the end of an 8 game season! That is not helping Guelph either.)

In the alternate schedule above Guelph likely would have had one at home and one away before week 5 and would be in playoff contention to end the season, exciting their fans.

A school like MT. Allison, in the Atlantic with 3 other schools would do well in this setup. In the status quo, Mt. Allison played:

@St. Mary's
St. Mary's

What if instead of playing historically solid teams in Sherbrook and Acadia, they could play York and Bishop's or Toronto and McGill?

Since there are too few teams to have classifications, scheduling should be arranged to help teams build fan bases. The more fans paying to see a game, the more revenue for the sport's department's expenses.


Canada West Football Conference
University ave att stadium seating capacity % full
Saskatchewan 3420 4,997 68.44%
Calgary 1716 35,650 4.81%
Regina 2481 28,800 8.61%
Simon Fraser 1343 5,288 25.40%
Manitoba 1813 5,000 36.26%
Alberta 1250 3,500 35.71%
British Columbia 1738 3,500 49.66%

Quebec University Football League
University ave att stadium seating capacity % full
McGill 2937 20,202 14.54%
Concordia 3064 4,000 76.60%
Montreal 3796 5,100 74.43%
Sherbrooke 7023 8,000 87.79%
Bishop's 2291 3,000 76.37%
Laval 13861 18,500 74.92%

Ontario University Athletics
University ave att stadium seating capacity % full
York 250 2,500 10.00%
Western 7183 8,000 89.79%
Wilfrid Laurier 4850 6,000 80.83%
McMasters 3878 6,000 64.63%
Guelph 3010 5,100 59.02%
Ottawa 1084 26,559 4.08%
Windsor 1818 2,000 90.90%
Toronto 1896 5,000 37.92%
Waterloo 2350 1,100 213.64%
Queens 5878 10,258 57.30%

Atlantic University Football Conference
University ave att stadium seating capacity % full
St. Mary's 3084 9,000 34.27%
St. Francis Xavier 2386 4,000 59.65%
Mount Allison 1561 2,500 62.44%
Acadia 1630 3,000 54.33%

In most instances any school above 80% filled should be considering a larger stadium because their attendance is likely being capped by it's limited capacity. Obviously, there are scenarios like Guelph where 2 of their home games were dogs, skunking thier average, so you'd have to look back at previous years to more correctly evalutate their stadium.

Finish this tomorrow...

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:18 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:59 pm
Posts: 29
New to this site and am loving all the content.

I am from Canada and currently live in Guelph. And I totally agree with the fact that the CIS is broken. There are many issues for this that you have touched on already:

Difference in quality of teams and programs
If we had to classify these teams under the NCAA banner it would probably go as follows:

St. Mary's

Div II
St. Francis Xavier

Simon Fraser
Mount Allison

There could be some debate as to where to put some of these programs but I think that would be the best fit. Saskatchewan, Western, Laval, and St. Mary's are easily the four best football schools in the CIS (interesting enough, one for each conference) and there is usually at least two if not more of these schools in the national semi-finals every year.

Scholarships are not clearly defined at all. However, they are given out and are done so as academic scholarships. My brother was able to get two schools to offer him $2,000 to go towards his first-year tuition. His average was not up to standards for an academic scholarship. A few others I went to high school with received similar offers. Usually they had to hit a low average in Grade 13 (I guess it would grade 12 now). This average was usually near the bottom end of admissions. As long as they hit that they would get their "scholarship" and be able to play university sports. There needs to be a more clear definition of how this would work. The problem may come from the fact that certain schools could become even more powerful if they had the use of scholarships to entice prospective students to attend their university. The disparity may become larger. But if they are going to eliminate athletic scholarships in any form then fine, but they need to do just that and punish schools that try to skirt around the rules.

This may be a deterrent to some but I have seen some NCAA games played in relatively bad weather. This may cause some to not show up but isn't a huge deal since the season is over by the end of November/early December (before the really bad weather would kick in).

Pro Kill Zones
An interesting idea. I think you may be somewhat right with pro football teams killing some fan interest in university football (Toronto Argonauts taking away fans from York and Toronto for example). I think the other thing you may have to add there is that NHL teams may be taking away from CIS fans as well. Toronto is a Maple Leafs town. They take away fans from every other team in town. Same with the Ottawa Senators. The Ottawa Gee-Gees have poor fan turnout in a huge stadium and I can bet that the Sens are "stealing" away fans from them.

There is definitely a dearth of marketing for the CIS. One game is on per week (two if you watch the French language station) and it's on The Score. I enjoy watching the games but they look like FCS games at best (and usually more like D-III games). The network is a bit of an alternative sports station. Some good shows but not up to par with TSN (or ESPN Canada as we might as well call it). Having CIS football on a station like The Score hampers its growth. The Score needs to either a) put more games on each week or b) have exclusive rights to broadcasting CIS (and broadcast more games). TSN gets the national semi-finals and Vanier Cup (national championship) and The Score gets the rest. Either that or TSN should start broadcasting a game every week as well. More visibility creates more potential fans. I also know that junior hockey sometimes trumps university football when it comes to local coverage and advertising. I know in Guelph the Guelph Storm (of the OHL) gets a fair amount of advertising and the Guelph Gryphons (CIS) get hardly any. And it shows. Even on off-years, the Storm fill about 75% of their arena, whereas the Gryphs are usually around half in good years (although the true capacity is probably around 10k with all the seating on the hill).

Travelling fans
There aren't any. You will see pockets of visiting fans at CIS games. Moreso at games with higher attendances. But students and alumni up here don't act like American students and alumni when it comes to supporting their teams. They are not as die-hard or fervent of a supporter to attend even one game a season. If all students and alumni of universities went to one game a year, the attendance would at least double if not triple in some cases (up to capacity of course).

Some of the stadiums are not bad. Some are awful. Some are dumps. Having been to a few of them I can tell you a lot of schools need upgrades to their football stadiums. I know firsthand that Guelph's stadium is subpar at best. What also doesn't help is when a game is broadcast there, the cameras point to the side of the stadium with no seating (just a grassy hill). Which makes it look even worse on TV. York's has to be the worst by far. It looks like they hastily created a new stadium so that the team would have a place to play. It looks worse than a lot of high school stadiums. Pitiful. But again, money and alumni donations could be at the root of this problem. Without the money, nothing will be done in this regard. There should be a minimum amount of seats when building a new stadium for a CIS team. It's the only way to keep some schools from building small, terrible stadiums.

Out of Conference games
I like this idea even if it was just one or two a year. I wouldn't go too much further than this though. One, travelling will cost a fair amount of money in some cases. Two, the rankings mean nothing in CIS football. It's all about conference play and making it into the playoffs. Too many OOC games and too few conference games could skew performances too much.

Nice to see someone post something about the CIS. I don't think even in Canada is there this much posted on CIS (which is sad).

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:59 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:57 pm
Posts: 1341
Location: Portland! (and about time!)
In other words, CIS doesn't come close to comparing with, oh, the CHL.

(BTW, for the American fans, I don't mean the Central. I mean WHL and OHL and LHJMQ.)

CIS has to have resources before it can promote... or it has to know a gamble can pay off. I wouldn't make that gamble.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:59 pm
Posts: 29
Well, no, the CIS doesn't compare in any way to the CHL, especially when it comes to the more successful hockey franchises in Kitchener, London, Ottawa, and other places around the country.

I do believe that the move Simon Fraser made to move back to D-II was a great one. UBC wants to move too and it sounds like there could be even more Western Canadian universities that could be thinking that way. If they want better exposure, I think the best bet is to join the NCAA for football. However, this causes a different problem. Then stadiums will have to be re-done to be able to match American football field standards (which are different than Canadian ones). However, I think the move would work as sad as it sounds for the CIS on its own. The CIS doesn't work well in most centres and I think it's a bit of a money pit as well. Best to invest that money properly, put some infrastructure in and move to the NCAA and hope for the best.

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