After taking in my first Canadian Football League (CFL) game of the 2017 season in Winnipeg Aug. 17, I can’t help but applaud the league on doing the right thing and changing one of its worst rules midway through the campaign.
For years, the CFL’s Coach’s Video Review Challenge has not only taken away from the aspect of human error in football, but also limits players from playing hard even when they are not involved in the play with the ball.
The coach’s challenge has slowed the game to a snail’s pace, leaving scoring celebrations delayed as you feverously search for a penalty flag, or worse, a challenge flag. It has hindered the league in its scoring (something the league once prided itself in), by limiting the amount of ‘big plays’ that occurred.
I found despite a great touchdown catch or huge run, the defensive team’s coach would quickly challenge and look for some form of holding or illegal blocking to nerf the play and essentially restart the drive from the same spot, with less time on the clock.
In addition, offensive coaches would throw their challenge flags if a receiver of theirs dropped a pass, claiming he was being interfered with. Due to these challenges, defensive backs have had to play much more subdued defensively and almost play away from the receiver, allowing him to catch the ball and then tackling him.
The problem with these challenges isn’t just that it took away from the game and hindered some of its players, it also completely stopped the game to allow referees to review the play in question for extended periods of time, making the game seem longer than it actually was.
The league changed this glaring issue in the CFL when newly minted commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced Aug. 2 coaches would now only have one challenge per game instead of two, making the coaches pick their battles a little more cautiously.
Sure by limiting the challenges, the games have sped up again, but there are still challenges on penalties away from the play, which in turn still limits the game from its high-energy plays from time to time. But taking away one challenge is a positive step forward for the league and a major win for the league’s new commissioner.