TORONTO - Now that we have proof that the Canadian Football League does not do it this way, here is what it must do in the future: Plan the Labour Day games, ensure that the Argonauts are playing at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton on that day, and fill in the rest of the schedule.
So what if the Blue Jays and their schedule has mucked up the annual Labour Day Classic between the Argos and Ticats in Steeltown? The only way the Jays, or whoever else has bookings at the Rogers Centre, should be take any blame is they’re playing at Ivor Wynne on Labour Day.
We have not checked in a while, but there is no chance of that happening.
The CFL knew there would be trouble, and commissioner Mark Cohon tried to explain the Classic fail this way: “There’s no doubt we would have loved to see the Argos face their traditional Labour Day foes in Hamilton,” Cohon said. “The fact is a shortage of available dates for the Argos at Rogers Centre, which also has to accommodate Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays and some major concerts, made that virtually impossible. To have the Argos on the road on Labour Day weekend would have meant they would play away from home six of the first nine weeks of the season, and that simply wouldn’t do justice to the competitive balance and fairness we strive to achieve. This change achieves the best possible home schedule for the Argos under the circumstances.”
Here’s something else that doesn’t do justice to the competitive balance and fairness the league strives to achieve: The Argos play four of their first five games on the road, including their first three.
No wonder former owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski tried to get the Boatmen into a stadium where they would be the primary tenant.
Cohon would have better served by acknowledging the league screwed up and putting forth a guarantee that it won’t happen again.
The Labour Day Classic involving the Argos and Ticats has been a league staple for years, with 1995 marking the most recent time the teams did not meet at Ivor Wynne on the day before school started.
If you want tradition, which the league likes to stand upon, talk to football fans in southern Ontario about Labour Day Monday in Hamilton.
Some will tell you it’s the one game on the schedule their team absolutely has to win. Others will say if they go to a game in any given season, that’s the one they will attend.
Unfortunately, this will give the CFL hater in your group more ammunition, even though those people usually have no clue what they are talking about.
Several players took to social media to vent their frustration and incredulity.
For many of them, it’s not just another game.
“Just looked at the new schedule ... What happened to the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton? Is that serious? C’mon man!” Argos centre Dominic Picard posted on his Twitter account.
Or this from Argos teammate Chad Rempel, also via Twitter: “No Labour day game vs. the Ticats? SMH (shaking my head).”
During an interview, Argos offensive lineman Taylor Robertson tried to soften the blow for fans when he made the wise point that the season finale between the teams, on Nov. 3 at the Rogers Centre, likely will have much greater implications on the playoff picture. But Robertson acknowledged the fans are those it hurts.
“The fans are going to be upset about it, but the league has good reasons,” Robertson said. “The Labour Day Classic will be back.”
How angry are fans? By the dinner hour on Friday, a Facebook group had been set up to save the Labour Day Classic. It won’t happen, but full marks for the attempt.
The CFL, under Cohon, has been getting things right. The brand is strong, and Touchdown Atlantic probably will be another success this fall. Ottawa is close to returning to the league.
But this sets the league two steps back, no matter the reason.