CFL is a popularity poll winner

ERIN NICKS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

The CFL has been searching for mainstream relevance since forever. It's been so long that the Cup went grey while it waited.

But thanks to a poll conducted by Reginald Bibby, a sociology professor at the University of Lethbridge, the CFL may have something to smile about.

According to Bibby's national survey, football is the second-most popular sport among Canadians (overshadowed by hockey, of course).

However, here's where the stats get interesting: Bibby claims the CFL is now the preferred football league to follow in Canada, with 19% of the vote, whereas the NFL bagged only 13%.

Whaa?

I'm not going to argue with the professor's findings, because if you read any synopsis of his studies, he paints a rosy picture for the CFL and backs his findings with in-depth research.

Television ratings are up, attendance is up, and the league's general profile has become more prevalent.

But part of me wonders how many of Bibby's 2,400 participants were from the National Capital Region.

How many informal CFL pools take place in this city during the season? They've got to be as rare as a frown from Pinball Clemons, because I have yet to see either.

Yet if you fire off an e-mail to a football buddy to ask how his NFL pool is coming along, the responses will undoubtedly clog your inbox faster than Cialis peddlers and wealthy Nigerian benefactors combined.

Looking for the CFL on QB1?

Check out TSN's website, circa '96. Yep, it was there. But present day, in any pub, you'd have better luck joining the search party for Jimmy Hoffa.

And while you're in the bar, take a look around on any given Friday night. The game will be on, but the majority of patrons are waiting to crawl to another establishment -- they're not watching the ball crawl down the field.

Exceptions are present, but indifference still rules.

RENEGADES MOTHBALLED

Ultimately we don't know which brand is preferable in Ottawa, but it would be ironic to assume that it is indeed the CFL, when the Renegades were recently mothballed for the season.

Worse still are Bibby's claims that Canadian football has grown exponentially in Quebec -- from 4% in the 1990's to 17%, present day.

Naturally, the majority of interest will be attributed to a franchise being returned to Montreal and its accompanying success. However, the professor also insists there is a grassroots movement occurring in Quebec, with many young people taking up the sport.

Did none of these youngsters and their respective parents live in Gatineau? Undoubtedly they were there, because we heard plenty of discussion after the 'Gades' demise involving an untapped fan base for the team, located right across the river.

Professor Bibby has produced the hard numbers on La Belle Province -- so where were these potential franchise-savers from Quebec? If only there were a member of the Renegades' marketing team to ask.

According to Bibby, the CFL is No. 2 in Canada. It may even be second best in Ottawa, but the lack of a franchise has eliminated a lot of the proof.

Ultimately, it's hard to notice something in the shadows when technically, it's not even there.

LOUD AND PROUD: Have you noticed the RBC Center's PA announcer during the Stanley Cup final? It's difficult not to, when he seems to practicing his Howard Finkel impression. Finkel is a long-time ring announcer for the WWE, and the in-arena voice of the Hurricanes is capable of an incredible facsimile. During last Wednesday's tilt, I was waiting for him to proclaim that the game was scheduled for "one fall." If he gets the chance to call the series-winning game this week, I'd pay money to hear him say, "The winner, and NEWWWW Stanley Cup Champions!" The Raleigh crowd already hoots like Ric Flair on helium -- this would just be the icing on the cake.

CARNIVAL ATMOSPHERE: Whenever I previously thought of Ty Conklin, I was always reminded of the amusement and travelling carnival company of the same name (although I'm unsure of any relation). Their company logo sports black crosses for eyes, giving it a rather lifeless appearance. After Game 1, it seemed like a pretty bizarre coincidence.

IN THE MICK OF TIME: Are you looking for something to fill your time once hockey is over? Join the Mick McGeough School of Drama, which the NHL referee runs every summer. Mick decided an airplane hangar would make a great classroom -- he's very big on projection.

erinnicks@yahoo.ca


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