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After 94 years, you'd think the CFL could run a decent Grey Cup

Paul Owen | The Gateway (University of Alberta) | Sports | December 4th, 2006

EDMONTON (CUP) -- Leave it to Nelly Furtado to ruin a perfectly enjoyable football game. The only entertaining part of the B.C. Lions' 25-14 win over the Montreal Alouettes in the 94th Grey Cup Sunday was listening to my Quebec-born mother rant about how shitty the Als were playing. In fact, a terrible halftime show led by Furtado was simply the icing on the cake of a championship game that displayed many of the CFL's problems.

It's clear that the divisions in the CFL continue to be blatantly unbalanced. Montreal has come out of the East five times in the past seven years, and won only once. While they've had some success, the Als have hardly been a dynasty -- rather they've merely been the best of a bad bunch.

The East hasn't had a truly dominant team since Doug Flutie left the Argos to be Rob Johnson's backup quarterback in Buffalo eight years ago.

This lack of balance is even more evident when watching the interdivisional games. The three playoff teams in the West went a combined 18—6 against the East Division. Only Edmonton didn't have a winning record, going a pathetic 1—7.

The Grey Cup game itself also proved how much better the West is. Unlike last season's double-overtime thriller between Edmonton and the Als -- a game that was only exciting because the Eskimos didn't deserve to be anywhere near it -- this year's game was never really in doubt.

The dominance that B.C. displayed on offence, especially in the first half, served to send those without a fiercely loyal French relative searching for their remote.

Of course, the CFL's other major problem is their poor marketing. More than any other major sport in Canada, the CFL relies on die-hard, middle-aged fans.

There's a reason Jackie Parker's death warranted such big coverage in Edmonton newspapers: the people who saw him play are the Journal's biggest readers. They are also the people who frequent Commonwealth Stadium. Beyond these folks, the CFL's market is university-aged males -- the people the NFL attracts with the Madden video game franchise.

Nelly Furtado is about the second-least likely halftime act to appeal to this demographic (the only worse choice would have been the Black Eyed Peas, last year's halftime performers).

Nubile young women won't draw male viewers when those ladies are wearing parkas, toques and mittens. Additionally, rap and R&B music doesn't jive with the CFL's classic rock or country-loving audience. The last memorable Grey Cup halftime performance was when the Guess Who's reunion tour made a stop in Calgary for the 2000 game.

Instead of insisting on whatever Canadian act is hottest at the time, the organizers need to stick with a classic rock group that bridges the generational gap, or else embrace the country music scene that dominates the Prairies and bring in a popular country group for a change of pace.

Finally, as if Furtado's style being entirely wrong for the CFL audience wasn't enough, her performance was just bad. Shouting Portuguese into a mic and screaming, “Who's your MVP?” doesn't count as music, in my opinion.

If that weren't enough, the girl from Victoria, B.C., answered her own question, naming Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo, despite the fact that the Als were losing 19—3 at the time. I wonder if she even understands football.
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