Toronto Argonauts: What to make of CFL’s return-to-play plan

Buffalo Bills BMO Field. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
Buffalo Bills BMO Field. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images) /

The CFL has announced their plans for 2021 – hoping to play a 14 game season that begins in August which means there is a chance for Toronto Argonauts football this year.

Today brought the first bit of definitive good news CFL fans have heard in a while. The CFL is still committed to playing in 2021, with fans in the stands.

According to TSN’s Dave Naylor, the league’s new target date is August 5th, where they are hoping to start a slightly shortened, 14 game season that would conclude with the first December Grey cup in 59 years.

More from Tip of the Tower

After months of silence on the scheduling front, the news is a ray of hope for fans who have gotten by on rumours and here-say since the original schedule was released last year.

That schedule was set to kick off June 10th, but with COVID raging across the country, and extended stay-at-home orders issued in some provinces well into May, that date became less and less feasible as time went on.

The simple fact that the CFL seems to have a plan should be reassuring to many fans. Last year, the disconnect in communication between the league, its players, and its fans was well documented. The uncertainty was beginning to show itself again, just over a month after news first broke of a CFL/XFL “partnership” that was light on details. Many of the league’s most dedicated fans were beginning to wonder what was going to happen, and they now have their answer.

Naylor also reported that the eastern teams have been warned they may start the season in the west, depending on provincial restrictions being lifted in one part of Canada before another. The CFL has always been clear on the issue of attendance – they need fans in the stands, or the league won’t work.

As far off as stadiums full of fans feel to the everyday person, now in month 14 of this pandemic, the relief may be closer than you think. Ontario has just opened up appointments to people aged 40 and up, and Canada just crossed the 10 and a half million mark for people with at least one shot of the vaccine. June was always cutting it close, but with an added two months, it is conceivable that at least some of the teams could be playing with crowds if not all.

The pushed-back Grey Cup date also gives the league wiggle room to push this new start date back, in a worst-case scenario. Last year, a rumoured shortened season starting as late as labour day was pitched until mid-August, when the league officially decided not to play. If 6-8 games is the lowest the league can go, then the start date could theoretically be pushed as late as October. There are 12 weekends between the first of October and the new Grey cup date, enough for an 8-game season and three playoff weekends if it comes to it.

In any case, today’s announcement shows the CFL is committed to returning to the field in 2021, a welcomed bit of news for a fanbase that has been waiting to hear some for over a year.

Next. CFL, XFL news leaves too much room for interpretation. dark

Do you think the CFL will be able to pull off a season? Will you go to the game if fans are allowed to attend? Let us know in the comments below.