Previews or Guess Work?

This season Overtime Central has made weekly CFL previews a staple, attempting to provide a source of information for visitors regarding the upcoming week’s games. This is meant to help everyone, from casual player to dedicated CFL watcher. Unfortunately the accuracy and content of the previews is lacking due the difficulty in acquiring information on CFL rosters.

The weekly previews came out of our season preview post where we listed the player movement and evaluated the personnel of all eight CFL clubs. Despite the difficulty in getting accurate training camp roster information and trying to remember all the player movement that occurred in the offseason, we felt we would go ahead and try a weekly preview post. When we initially envisioned the previews, we thought that we would give our take on the game and a score. We decided this would bring little to people who could care less what our prediction is and decided to added team records and injury reports. Immediately it became apparent that injury reports would be difficult.

The roster links on CFL.ca supposedly link to accurate rosters for each team. For the most part they are correct and complete and are certainly much better now than they have been in previous years, when they were either outdated or non-existant. However, the CFL adopted new roster deadlines this year allowing teams to make roster changes up to 1 hour prior to the kickoff of their next game. With this new flexibility coaches can disguise who is on the roster to the very last minute, and have no incentive to publish changes that are certain earlier in the week. This leads to discrepancies in the rosters and what is know in the media. Check the roster, a player who is out with knee surgery is shown on the active roster, not the injured list.

With the increased roster sizes injured players may also stay on the active roster, dress, but not start or play except in an emergency. This is especially true for quarterbacks, where three quarterbacks must dress for each game, teams are not likely to bring in a fourth when a QB‘s injury is not serious and long term.

This has led to mistakes in our Notable Injuries section of the preview reports. Sometimes players have been out, but not publicised until just prior to the game. Other times there is talk a player may return to the active roster but there is no certainty before the preview comes out prior to the first game of the week, which sometimes leads to inaccurate information if the player does or does not dress/start depending on what we guess. Other times, even though we saw the media reports a player was injured and will be out, because the rosters do no reflect it, we forget when writing the preview and again inacurate information is provided.

We will continue to try to improve the accuracies of these reports, but our deadlines restrict us from publishing the information any closer to game time. What we would like is the CFL to realize that fans live off this information. While hiding injuries or player statuses is something practiced in all leagues, there does seem to be more transparency in leagues which have a greater fantasy base to their fans. We would like to see the CFL adopt and publish better injured list designations, like 7-day, 30-day and 90-day injured lists. This would show a player’s on and off list dates. No restrictions should be incurred by coaches using these lists. A player should be able to be placed on a 7-day injured list, and then put back on the same or a longer list if the injury warrants when the first designation expires.

In addition to these lists, the CFL should require a formal standard for reporting player statuses on the active roster. These would include healthy, probable and doubtful. A coach can still designate a player as doubtful and start him or healthy and scratch him. These designations at least provide a consistent feed of information to media and fans that is centralized, instead of requiring you to visit the training rooms of every CFL club to gather the scratches for the upcoming week.

Providing consistency and detailed information is what other leagues excel at from their strong central offices, even if it is an illusion. The CFL needs to work to improve their efforts in this area to provide information to the stat and pool junkies out there that want it.

2 Responses to “Previews or Guess Work?”

  1. Bill Says:

    I thhink a lot of that is the nature of the beast. If there are loophols or little advantages to not sharing status of players, the teams will find it ;)

    Of course do what you can based on what’s available. We won’t hold you to anything. :)

  2. Jon Says:

    True Bill. I’m not looking for a perfect system. But I would like consistency. Just look at any other league. Some CFL rosters published at CFL.ca are weeks out of date. Just set some rules about player movement (they have to be on one of 3 injured lists, with known on and off dates, for example) and consitency in player statuses, then lie all you want, but those lies contain the publicly known lists. With 46 man rosters they can do a lot of lying compared to when I grew up and it was 36 then 38.

    Just imagine the NFL press if they couldn’t get any roster information from teams like who is on injured lists, on the active roster, etc. It can’t happen because they know they need the press as part of their marketing strategy to their fans, not finding out at game time about every scratch and player dressing.

    It’s not an improvement in accuracy, behind the scenes knowledge, but at least there is a formal process all teams follow which means information is available in a consistent manner. What ever happened to building organizations around common set of rules everyone follows? The CFL has different rules for Hugh Campbell, Don Matthews, B.C. and Toronto. That is where the bush league image comes from.

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    The Sports Economist → A site I first stumbled upon a few weeks ago with commentary on the money being spent on sports, from stadiums to sponsorships, from amateur to professional and many things in between. #
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