Living in a fantasy world

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

A fantasy intruded on my life the other day.

Somehow, I convinced myself that the CFL eventually would see the day when any of the eight teams had a legitimate chance to beat any other team in any given game.

It never happens that way.

Year after endless year, at least a couple of teams embarrass fans forced to watch a sequence of on-field failures and off-field comedies.

There is no easy explanation - no complicated explanation, either - that lets me understand the ongoing failures of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the almost-perpetual disappointment that is the Toronto Argonauts.

This is not a 16-team league whose sheer size dictates that top teams are guaranteed to be many games better than the worst. This is an eight-team "house" league that tries, and fails, to find ways to keep every franchise on equal footing.

Money isn't the answer.

Hamilton's owner has more money than he could possibly spend, yet the Tiger-Cats struggle, season after season. Saskatchewan's limited population creates the potential for financial misery year after year but the Roughriders are usually competitive and always entertaining.

It's a big edge for the Eskimos that Commonwealth Stadium, which they occupy for almost no cost, is the biggest and best in Canada. More important by far is the fact that Edmonton's fans are the biggest and most loyal group in the league - although often, also, the most critical.

Today, right now, I'm convinced that one of Edmonton's major strengths is the fact that nobody panics when things go wrong.

If you hire enough coaches, you're guaranteed to make a mistake now and again. If you turn the roster upside down every spring, you're guaranteed to bring in some duds and overlook some gems.

Nobody has said Danny Maciocia is a genius. Danny himself would laugh at the suggestion.

But it's clear now that this organization was right during the off-season to ignore the bleats of unhappy fans and rants by many in the media.

JELENA TO THE RESCUE

If you watched the pro boxing show Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre, you saw everything that is wrong with Canadian boxing.

You saw a guy (John McLean) with a record of three wins and a kajillion losses trying to fight a 47-year-old guy (Donovan Boucher) who was a legitimate world contender a mere 20 years ago.

You saw a novice in his fourth or fifth pro fight (Jamey Diarmin) trying to survive against capable southpaw (Kevin Reynolds) who ranks among this nation's top cruiserweights.

But you also saw Jelena Mrdjenovich at something close to her top form.

Hampered by a knee problem and mentally weary after a long siege without a break from this demanding sport, she needed some time off. In her return against Lakeysha Williams, Mrdjenovich found a capable and willing opponent.

They scrapped non-stop for eight rounds. Between them, they salvaged the show.

Promoter Glen Carriere had the grace to show discomfort when Boucher pounded McLean at will for six rounds. The brave Winnipeg warrior has been punched by welterweights and middleweights on both sides of the border and has never backed down, but he should be instructed to hang up his gloves.

People get hurt in this sport. Some never recover.


Videos

Photos