It says something about the state of university sport in Canada when its marquee game is competing against Saturday morning cartoons and hangovers to get viewers.
But in the case of the Vanier Cup, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s (CIS) annual match for university football supremacy, that’s what is happening. The Calgary Dinos and the Laval Rouge et Or will face off at Quebec City’s PEPS Stadium tomorrow, and because Laval has not been able to install lights at PEPS (as was promised when the CIS gave them the game for 2009 and 2010), the game will start at 11:45am.
Or, 8:45am pacific. More importantly, if you’re a Calgary student wanting to watch the game on TSN, 9:45 in the morning. It doesn’t help that, with the Grey Cup taking place in Edmonton the next day, media attention on the game has been reduced to a footnote. 17,000–18,000 will fill the stands tomorrow in Quebec, but its long-term significance will be nill.
Next year, the game will be going to Vancouver, and be paired with the Grey Cup. It worked well in Toronto in 2007, though that was partly due to many Vanier Cup tickets paired with Grey Cup ones. There’s also the fact that Vancouver is something less than a university football hotbed, and it’s relative isolation will mean that, unlike a championship in Ontario or Quebec, very few students will be able to make the trek over to cheer on their school
Still, if the game is going to take place on the same weekend as the Grey Cup, it makes sense for the game to be paired with the Grey Cup—there’s only so much corporate, fan and media support to go around.