Ottawa in for a rough ride

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

All right, OK. Big deal.

Ottawa is about to take a new step back into the Canadian Football League. The franchise won't last. Again.

One major flaw mars the picture: politics and hockey are the two major sports in our nation's capital - always were and always will be.

Sorry, but that doesn't allow room or time for a third fascination of any major size.

When the old Ottawa Rough Riders were part of the Eastern Conference - long before anyone seriously considered Winnipeg part of the East, even for gridiron purposes - Russ Jackson and Ron Stewart, Whit Tucker and Kaye Vaughan and others made them entertaining on the field and successful in the standings.

But that was before the NHL got to town.

The ongoing story of Ottawa's failure to make a football team viable is the same story, in effect, as the failure of the Toronto Argonauts to convince a large number of people that the Canadian game is more entertaining than the tank warfare that occurs every Sunday in the NFL.

In Toronto, hockey is No. 1 and there's no No. 2.

Televised football and the Tiger Woods golf channel compete with the Blue Jays and Raptors for what's left of a Hogtown sports fan's interest.

For several years, a certain breed of Canadian nationalists have run around in endless circles, bleating that the NFL should never be allowed to put a team in Toronto.

Eventually, the bleaters will lose, unless the correct solution is somehow discovered.

What's that, you ask? Simple - let the NFL put a team wherever it wants after we sell Toronto to the United States.

It's also inevitable that citizens will be assured that their tax money won't be used to pay for it.

Mr. Katz will provide a large sum and the province and feds will look after most of the rest of the bill, which you can bet will climb well beyond the $450 million being bandied about all last week.

I wonder how it's possible for local politicians to forget that the feds and the province get their share of our tax money, too, but they always manage to deliver such a message.

Let's get it straight: I'm in favour of a new and magnetic downtown core; the people at Northlands have earned the right to operate the new facility.

Do you remember all of the good things politicians told us would happen when Commonwealth Stadium was built in our inner city?

If you believe they all came to pass, drive through the area any time.

Surely our enlightened society can be more careful this time. Can't we?


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