Getting “ratioed” on Twitter is a bad thing, meaning the negative responses to your tweet far outweighed likes and retweets.
The Canadian Football League is dealing with a real world version of the phenomenon.
CFL rules mandate that each team has a 44-player roster with a minimum of 21 nationals (Canadians) and 20 internationals (primarily U.S. citizens). Currently, of the 24 starters on a team, seven must be nationals.
However, 3DownNation reported last weekend that the league and the Players Association are considering a deal that would drop the minimum number of national starters to five.
CFLPA Executive Director Brian Ramsay responded with a tweet that reads:
A recent report suggesting that any contract language between the CFL and CFLPA has been agreed to is completely and utterly false, and simply untrue. I can confirm we have not reached agreement on any discussions with the CFL.
Regardless, the idea of making a change is a divisive issue, one that has resulted in some Twitter sniping among players.
And if you canvassed fans north and south of the Canadian border, you’d likely get vastly different opinions.
Before we consider their viewpoints, though, here’s mine: It doesn’t matter to me.
If all 24 starters are Canadians, Americans or Klingons, they’re still playing a game I enjoy immensely. When a guy catches a pass or makes a tackle, I have no interest in what’s on his passport. There was a period in the 1990s in which the CFL required 10 Canadian starters among the 24 on the field, and that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the game in the least.
League commissioner Randy Ambrosie is championing his “CFL 2.0” plan, which is designed to bring in players from pro leagues in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Norway and Sweden. Those players would take up international spots, obviously, although the imports on CFL squads will continue to be overwhelmingly American.
And though I’m well aware the NFL features a far greater number of talented players and powerful teams, I’m a fan of the CFL’s style and have been since I started watching in the mid-1970s.
Three downs, pass-heavy, longer and wider field, 20-yard deep end zones – the whole package is what drew me to the game and still does. And when I became a fan, I wasn’t remotely concerned where the players hailed from.
However, I can see where there’s a conflict among those with much more skin in the game than me.
For starters the CFL is very, well, Canadian. It’s more than a league, it’s a significant part of the culture, and I completely understand why Canadian fans want to see a good number of Canadian players on the field.
On the other hand, those who are looking at it from a talent angle realize that an overwhelming number of elite players ply their trade in the NCAA.
Based strictly on Xs and Os, you can argue that a team made up entirely of American players will likely be stronger than one required to have five or seven starters who came through U Sports in Canada, which has only 27 teams.
There are 130 schools competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision and 124 Football Championship Subdivision programs, so just a quick look at the math shows there’s a much bigger pool to choose from.
But really, that’s why a ratio makes sense.
U Sports players are trained in the Canadian-style game, and just as American college players harbor NFL dreams, many Canadian kids dream of growing up and playing in the CFL.
When I step back and look at it that way, I can see how ultimately decreasing the current ratio is a bad thing.
The bottom line is I’m counting down the days until the first preseason game in May and I’ll continue to watch the CFL regardless of how the rosters are put together. I can afford to be dispassionate about the process.
However, the people who run the league can’t.
They have to care about the ratio, and whatever decision they make will reverberate long after the Twitter wars die down.