Published on February 22, 2011 10:48 PM by dbo.
Note: See the Schedules page if you are looking for the 2011 CFL schedule.
The CFL released the 2011 schedule Feb. 18th. Expectations based on previous release dates was a release date earlier than the eventual 2.5 weeks later than last year. When the schedule was revealed, the absence of a traditional match-up became the focus point of the new schedule.
In CFLdb’s annual analysis of the schedule, we find the 2011 schedule to be very balanced. Each team plays only one set of back-to-back games over weeks 10 and 11, Labour Day weekend and the following week. Fans in all cities will see a variety of opponents, with the only anomaly Montreal playing Winnipeg all three times over six weeks from Sept. 18 to Oct. 12 in the second half the season. Toronto also plays Winnipeg three times in the first half of the season, but plays them a fourth time in the last half.
Wednesday and Thursday games increase from a total of five in 2010 to seven in 2011. Overall the weekday analysis looks similar to last year, with Sunday’s game count down three to ten this year.
* – Four games occur on Stat Holiday Mondays (Labour Day and Thanksgiving) and two on a Stat Holiday Friday (Canada Day)
Game times became more consistent across the board with BC leading the way again.
|Unique Times||Mode (Local)||Freq Count|
Quite an accomplishment by the schedule maker this year is the consistency in minimum, average and maximum days between games. The four day minimum for Calgary and Edmonton are because they insist on playing home-and-home games on Labour Day Monday and the following Friday. This balance indicates a very fair schedule. This is very difficult to accomplish and whether by design or accident, the schedule maker should be congratulated for this result.
Examining the balance of home games in the two halves of the season we see balance here as well. This was the difficulty in making the schedule this year, with not only Toronto being short of home dates in the first half of the season, but BC pushing to get more home dates Sept. 30 or later so they can be played in the newly renovated BC Places stadium, with twice the capacity of Empire Field.
|1st Half||2nd Half|
The biggest uproar was over Montreal substituting for Toronto in host Hamilton’s Labour Day Classic. The CFL and its schedule maker took unnecessary criticism for this one blemish, despite an explanation from the league. I didn’t follow all the discussion on the schedule because of the initial negativity, but at least one team was happy with it.
Calling this another “CFL Blunder” may get eyeballs, but it does little to investigate the actual issue or explain how tough making a schedule is. Making claims that all the league has to do is make sure Toronto is visiting Hamilton on Labour Day, then fill in the rest of the schedule minimizes the complexities of creating a schedule but surely indicates the author has never attempted to make one. With the restrictions Toronto faces for home dates at Rogers Centre, including preferred availability on weekends (Thursday to Sunday) there may have only been ten acceptable dates all year for the Argos, and if one of those is Labour Day weekend, the schedule maker’s hands are tied.
In today’s day and age speaking before thinking offers immediate relief of emotions. However, blaming the Commissioner for the schedule or believing that the league forced this onto the Ti-Cats is naive. Especially after the delays, it is obvious that all angles were looked at to try to resolve the issue and this was the best schedule agreed to by all clubs, including Hamilton. After some time, more thoughtful analysis of the situation is provided.
In the end, this isn’t the beginning of a new tradition, with Toronto forever banished from Hamilton on Labour Day, nor was a 100 year tradition broken. Nor was the Labour Day game taken from Hamilton, there is just a different opponent this year. Next year, the Argos will return, and a year’s absence will make the game that more meaningful. Construction at Ivor Wynne in 2013 will mean another lack of the game at Ivor Wynne, but imagine what the first Labour Day game at the newly constructed game will be like. In the big picture, one missed Labour Day match won’t kill anyone and if 2011’s game helps push the Tiger-Cats past the Alouettes, won’t it be worth it?
To grasp how difficult it is to make a schedule, try making one yourself. Now include all the factors such as television requirements, stadium availability dates, days between games, traditional games and dates (Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day), match-up rotations, neutral site game, balance in opponents and home/away dates and other special requirements such as BC’s need to get as many home games as possible in BC Place. Suddenly it is not that easy. With all the variables it becomes very hard to accommodate everyone and the schedule process becomes one of compromise. These restrictions have a domino effect on the schedule. Producing a schedule where only one domino has fallen and the rest of the schedule is perfectly balanced and fair as you can get in an eight team league is a miracle.
So instead of ripping the schedule maker for the lack of a traditional opponent, they should be praised for producing such a balanced schedule with only a single compromise under very difficult conditions.