Notebook – October 23, 2006

Soft targets, doping, plenty of CFL Notes and more in this edition of the Notebook.

CFL Soft Target for Terrorism

A hoax by a Wisconsin grocery clerk prompted an investigation of Grey Cup security by the Winnipeg Sun. In the articles, the Sun quotes George MacLean, University of Manitoba professor and head of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the university, as saying the security preparations do not meet the reality of Canada’s increased involvement in Afghanistan.

The CFL responded with a short press release on Grey Cup security, stating security is “of the utmost concern” and reassuring fans over the security of the event.

While the article makes the Winnipeg organizing committee look unprepared for hosting such a large event post 9/11 with admittances to only a slightly increased Winnipeg Police presence and no involvement with the military, security agencies and the federal and provincial governments, the situation may not be so unusual. Involvement with the military, in either a consultancy or physical presence role may not be feasible considering the limits our military is stretched to these days. I would expect our security agencies and governments to forward any pertinent information about threats to the Grey Cup to the organizers so they could be handled appropriately. If they were not aware of such a plot, then I would place more blame on our lacking intelligence rather than the security organizers. Therefore, the measures the organizers and Winnipeg Police have in place seem appropriate.

While you cannot know when and what terrorists will pick as targets, you can also determine what is and easier target and what is more difficult. An event like the Grey Cup is more difficult because it is a one-time event; there is no second chance, unlike a train or other targets with regular schedules. Location is another factor. Winnipeg is the worst place for maximum impact, both emotionally and politically. Sporting events in general, despite the portrayal in movies and books that they are targets, have not been attacked or a plot to target them broken up. This is despite the fact that the US has a multitude of sporting events every week that are worthwhile targets, from high school football to professional sporting events. Terrorism is not to be taken lightly, but I do not think security needs to be implemented to a maximum just to protect the organizers heads from rolling if an incident did happen.

Dick Pound Cares About the CFL

The World Anti-Doping Agency head Dick Pound came down on the CFL last week on the lack of a league drug policy. Pound expressed the view that because the CFL does not test for banned substances, they believe they do not have to test because there is not problem.

The CFL released a short press release to address the comments by Pound. While Pound’s comments were labelled as inaccurate and lacking an understanding of the facts, the CFL did not address the inaccuracies point-by-point, which weakened their rebuttal. The CFL should have pointed for evidence where they have said there is or is not a drug problem in the CFL. The fact is the CFL does not know and is looking to address the issue of a drug testing policy with the players union.

CFL personnel responded appropriately, with coaches and players questioned discounting or not wanting to respond to Pounds unsubstantiated comments. The dispargement of the league offended some, and they struck back. Discussion with players reveals that a drug testing program will not likely be as transparent as Pound would like, with a focus on treatment rather than punishment. Everyone it seems but Pound seems to have a firm grasp on the situation. Unless Pound has the cash to provide the CFL for testing, it will happen in its own time which is not likely until the next Players Association contract renewal in 2009.

Pound has no jurisdiction over the CFL, their players do not play in international amateur competitions like the previously criticized NHL players, and the CFL is an independent league that could allow all legal performance enhancing drugs if it wanted to. Pound, as an anti-doping advocate, also weighed in on the topic of illegal recreational drugs, calling the CFL a “summer camp” for drug-using NFL players. Obviously a reference to Ricky Williams signing in Toronto this year, he ignores the plan to eliminate this loophole in the future. With these holes punched in his claim, Pound looks no more than a regular Joe with poor fact checking skills than an expert in his field.

CFL Notes

Toronto’s preparation for the 2007 Grey Cup looks like it will bring the event back to Toronto in a big way. In an extended 24-hour sale of tickets, over 20,000 tickets were sold.

The CFL announced this past week that Nelly Furtado will headline the 2006 Grey Cup half-time show. Also announced was Eva Avila, 2006 Canadian Idol winner, is to sing the national anthem on November 19th. For the second year in a row, the CFL will feature a controversial act for Grey Cup half time. Last year’s Black Eyed Peas raised some eyebrows with their performance of the suggestive song My Humps. Furtado brings controversy with her latest album, more risqué and hip-hop influenced than her previous two releases, with the singles Promiscuous and Maneater. The question is will this attract the younger, female fans of these acts to the CFL?

Proposed Ontario ad ban on gambling internet sites would affect the Argos and CFL says Argo president.

Bill Szijarto got advice from Noel Prefontaine and practiced, but in the end made only his first two field goals in the Kick to Win promotion. This netted him $25,000 in prizes, not bad for anyone. Unfortunately, the CFL‘s post under the headline “Szijarto Hits Two of Four Field Goals” links to a summary of the game, not the contest.

A rare and insightful interview with CFL officials. Like any officials, they do not deserve abuse or threats. Officiating will not attract more and better officials when fans (and players, coaches and even media) cross the line to unacceptable behaviour. Treat these people well, they are needed.

In keeping with all things Ricky for at least one piece of the Notebook, this in-depth profile of Ricky Williams gets into some questions other reporters have failed to ask, like his vegetarianism and decision to play football in Canada this year.

The CFL signs on with STATS as their official data distributor. We do not know what this means, but plan to keep an eye on changes to see how this affects the openness of CFL stats.

Will the CFL face a bunch of quarterback movement at season’s end? I for one do not expect movement of big name QB‘s, but Dickenson could retire if the post-concussion syndrome makes him rethink his career.

Other Notes

Backup punter faces 48 years. Seems a little out of line with the crime to me, but you have to set an example sometime.

Bye, bye Bobby Clark. Never thought he would leave like this. Always thought he was too stubborn and someone would have to ask him to leave.

Who is the biggest surprise in the NHL this year? Not Buffalo. For me, Atlanta, Nashville, Minnesota and Dallas all leading their divisions has caught me off guard.

3 Responses to “Notebook – October 23, 2006”

  1. Bill Says:

    josh ranek was released by hamilton.

    and i think winnipeg is safe from terrorists – it’ll be too cold :)

  2. Bill Says:

    the wisconsin hoax link doesn’t work. he’s an article on it from abc news

  3. Jon Says:

    Thanks Bill. I have corrected the link to use a more “reliable” source.

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