Less than a week after the Vanier Cup was played in -30 degree celcius weather, and a day after a Letter to the Editor in The Montreal Gazette said that it posed a health risk to every one involved, I remain split on the issue.
We live in Canada. It is cold in Canada. Deal with it. Why should we cry about the weather and how cold it is? It is even for both teams, and it doesn’t really affect the game (other than the players being cold). When the CFL or the CIS has teams in small cities, like Saskatoon, Quebec City, Winnipeg and countless others, should we force these cities to build stadiums with a roof just so they can host a championship game? I don’t think so. Look at the support the Vanier Cup had in Saskatchewan, and the sellout at the Grey Cup in Winnipeg allowed the Blue Bombers to make a profit this season. Why should fans in those cities have to deal with the travel to either Toronto or Vancouver, who have covered stadiums or deal with the danger of being under the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. This argument seems to me like big-city people crying that they want a big game in their city or it seems to me like fans of a team that lost in the cold weather looking for an excuse.
The NFL rotates the venue of the Super Bowl every year, and has never had a ‘cold weather’ championship game. They have, however had other important playoff games in places like Buffalo and Green Bay. But, and this is a big but, the U.S., last time I looked, had more than three stadiums to choose from. Just off of the top of my head, I can name Dolphins Stadium in Miami, the Superdome in New Orleans, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Cardinals Stadium in Arizona, and that doesn’t even include stadiums in Texas, Georgia and the rest of Florida. Canada does not have hot cities, which is why the CFL season goes from June to November, and the CIS season goes from late August to November. Also, there is a reason that the Alouettes had trouble drawing people to games at Olympic Stadium but have a season-ticket waiting list at the outdoor Molson Stadium. Football is a game that is supposed to be played outside. A covered stadium does not exactly have a great atmosphere.
Unless you want to have your championship game in the States, you will have to rotate your biggest game around the three cities that have covered stadiums or look at the long-range forecast – an option that will hinder ticket sales immensely. Not exactly fair.
Having said that, I do think there is something wrong with playing a game in frostbiting cold when there are warnings not to go outside, unless you have tickets to the game. The safety issue is a big one. What would happen if a spectator, player or a coach had to be rushed to the hospital due to frostbite? Sometimes it is so cold, that no matter how warm you dress, you still can get frostbitten. Also, does extreme cold make the game more exciting or enjoyable? Probably not. A championship game should be played where there are no outside influences, I can see that argument. However, I’m not sure whether that is true. Let’s use the CFL as an example. If you are the B.C. Lions, you would play nine regular season games inside a dome. If you are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, you play nine regular season games outside, the last few games in the bitter cold. If the game is played in an indoor stadium (to avoid cold weather changing the outcome of the game) don’t you think that there is an advantage to one team over another?
The game of football should be played outdoors. It would be an injustice for the CFL, a Canadian league, to abandon a championship game because there is snow on the ground. It would be as ridiculous as saying hockey couldn’t be played in Florida because the arena would be hotter, and the ice worse, than an arena in Edmonton.
The NFL has its championship games in the South, or under a roof, because it has choice and variety. In Canada there is no choice… unless they want to have the Grey Cup held annually in Honolulu.