CFL: More Popular Than Ever

As the Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes prepare to host the BC Lions on opening night, fans across Canada are finalizing their fantasy teams and starting lineups thanks to Canada’s only CFL fantasy football league.

What started off as an idea amongst friends, hardcore CFL and Roughriders fans, in Saskatchewan has flourished into an ever growing website with over 50,000 visitors since its launch last March.

“Fantasy football is really popular in the States, it’s a major phenomenon down south,” says Fantash-Eh communications director Matt Brown. “The CFL could really benefit from its own fantasy league.”

According to Jamie Dykstra, CFL director of communications and broadcasting, the CFL has seen tremendous development over the past five years with record viewership on TSN. The 2010 Western Final featuring Saskatchewan and Calgary had an average audience of 2.54 million viewers, making it the most-watched CFL playoff game every recorded. 

The Grey Cup continues to be one of Canada’s most-watched celebrations with an average audience of 6.04 million viewers in 2010, second in ratings behind the previous year’s record setting 6.1 million viewers.

“Business is growing,” says Dykstra. “It all comes down to the fans enjoying our game and engaging in our products.”

That is the same mentality Fantas-Eh Football had when creating their site.

“It’s a great business idea but we also thought it would be really good for the CFL,” explains Brown. “We’re CFL fanatics and we were tired of playing fantasy NFL because it’s not our game. We wanted to do something about it.”

While Fantas-Eh Football has no partnership with the CFL at the moment, they do have a partnership with the hometown Roughriders who send out Fantas-Eh Football flyers in their season ticket packages and have put up advertisements throughout the stadium.

While Dykstra wouldn’t comment on a future partnership between the CFL and Fantas-Eh Football or whether the CFL would start their own fantasy league on the CFL website the way the NFL does, he did explain that anytime fans get together to create something that gets other fans together enjoying the game it is good for the CFL.

“There is a market for it,” Says Dykstra about CFL fantasy leagues. “Fantas-Eh has shown there is a market for it.”

Brown was already a CFL fanatic before participating in the fantasy league but says there’s a whole added value to watching the game with points riding on the line. He now watches all four games a week just to see how his fantasy players are doing.

“It’s very engaging to fans and it’s a great way to bring the nation together,” explains Brown. “You start to recognize and appreciate all the teams and players in the league. It gives you a great reason to watch the CFL.

Opening day is June 30 with RONA Canada Day Kickoff at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcasted on TSN.

For more information about Fantas-Eh Football visit the website at http://www.fantaseh.ca

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Journey to the CWHL – Update

Where do I even begin?

It’s been a month and a half since my last post about my journey to the CWHL and I do apologize for that. Apparently it’s pretty time consuming to balance a full-time job, a bonus project, coaching a hockey team, playing hockey once a week, off-ice training and a boyfriend (it’s a good thing I found a healthy one so most our time together is spent hiking/swimming/running or walking).

Those guys in the NHL sure have it easy….getting paid to play hockey or train every single day. Unfortunately I do not have that luxury so I am a slave to the 9-5 routine.

During the past month I have been hitting a skating treadmill once a week at the Skating Lab in North York. If you play hockey and have never heard of a skating treadmill or have never used one for training I would highly recommend doing so! Not only is the cardio workout aspect intense, the 15 minute warm up off the treadmill is all geared towards enhancing speed, agility and quickness. The trainer watches your stride as you skate and corrects your form so you learn how to get the most out of every single stride as well.

After six sessions on the treadmill I am actually noticing a huge difference in my skating…and I was already really fast to begin with. Now I’m realizing it takes even less effort to skate just as hard, if not harder and I am keeping my body lower to the ice surface, putting less stress on my back (which is probably how I hurt myself in the first place).

-Confession time- I have actually thrown up after four of my six sessions. I NEVER throw up from working out. The room itself is pretty warm and I don’t do well in heat, but as I said before it is a very intense workout and apparently I don’t even come close to being the only one to leave throwing up.

Last night in my men’s league I had so much confidence and energy wheeling around guys with the puck. I scored a sweet goal top shelf and added an assist in our 7-2 rout. During the hand shake at the end of the game every single guy on the other team made some sort of compliment about my style of hockey including the goalie who said “wow, you really know how to skate…that was so impressive. Nice goal too by the way, you roofed it! You got me.” I left the ice grinning from ear to ear.

Hearing things like that, especially from guys makes me want to train even harder to make it to the CWHL. A lot of men have a hard time admitting defeat at the hands of a woman on the ice, let alone being happy to play with and against one. It’s definitely a confidence booster.

The nights I’m not on the skating treadmill and not playing hockey I’ve been hitting the gym for group core classes, a pilates inspired core/cardio workout and a leg workout my physiotherapist set me up with which also helps strengthen my back since the injury. I throw an arm workout in twice a week too. With the beautiful weather we’ve been blessed with lately I have also spent a lot of time outdoors going for hikes in the ravines in my neighbourhood.

I feel a lot healthier, my muscles are coming back and I’ve actually managed to eat a lot less chocolate than usual. I couldn’t give it all up…I mean, it IS summer – who could resist a scoop of ice cream here or there?

The draft is a month away now and the anticipation is really mounting. I count my blessings every single day as my body keeps healing and allows me to put it through the training I’ve been putting it through to get in the best shape of my life.

Until next time.