November 11, 2019

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Opinion

Legal cannabis provides unique opportunity for CFL

Tijana Martin / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>Cannabis plants at the CannTrust Niagara Greenhouse Facility in Fenwick, Ont. The CFL could now consider branding and partnerships with the legalized cannabis industry.</p>

Tijana Martin / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Cannabis plants at the CannTrust Niagara Greenhouse Facility in Fenwick, Ont. The CFL could now consider branding and partnerships with the legalized cannabis industry.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/10/2018 (385 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/10/2018 (385 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Now that cannabis is officially legal in this country, it will be interesting to see how, when and whether the Canadian football teams, and league, decide to do business and/or associate publicly with this potentially multibillion-dollar industry.

If you’ve been around the Canadian Football League, you’re probably aware that the league has never tested for or listed cannabis as a banned substance, and that a significant percentage of its players are regular users. During my 11 years in the CFL, I would speculate that anywhere around 40 to 50 per cent of players in the rosters I was on were active and regular users — and that was when it was "illegal."

Now that Canada has become only the second country in the world to green-light cannabis recreational use, it's likely these numbers could increase. So will the CFL partner up with a potential new stream of local and national revenue and sponsorship that a significant percentage of its membership is already involved with, or will there be concerns over the branding and visibility of having their players openly associated with the drug?

Is the public and fanbase ready to have today’s defensive performance brought to you by Delta 9 Cannabis? Or is it too soon to reveal how many players have already been using this drug, both recreationally and medically, to help them cope with the rigours of the game?

The first applications that come to my mind, naturally, are the fun and spectacle-type pairings the CFL could have with such an involvement and promotion.

When the players are introduced and they run out of the tunnel, could all of that smoke that blows and billows into the air be sponsored by National Access Cannabis? Imagine every time there is a questionable call on the field of play by the officials, or a coach bungles his time management in the waning moments of a game, could we hear the song "Because I Got High," by Afroman, blared across the stadium speakers?

Imagine seeing players doing their pre- or post-game interviews, wearing the insignias of league-partnered cannabis corporations, instead of just whomever the apparel outfitter of the day happens to be. Is a "cannabis" football league just the kind of association the CFL needs to tap into the next generation of fans?

While some of these suggestions are indeed absurd, think of how far alcohol, and specifically beer promotion and commercialism has penetrated into the world of professional football and sports — and that’s without any potential health benefits for the players and fan base that cannabis derivatives may have. Both alcohol and cannabis are age-controlled substances, but one of these certainly has far more documentation of long-term health hazards and complications. Not only are beer and alcohol the beverages of choice at every sporting event, and a major income stream for teams, but a widely acceptable pairing when it comes to branding and optics for almost any professional sport.

Since Uruguay is reportedly the only other country in the entire world that has legalized recreational usage of cannabis, this puts the Canadian Football League at the forefront, and makes it one of the first professional sporting entities to be operating in an environment where cannabis promotion and corporate partnership is actually possible. What they will do with this opportunity is anybody’s guess, but it will be both fascinating and somewhat comical to watch it unfold.

 

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

 

Doug Brown

Doug Brown
Columnist

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

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