It would appear that the prestige of being ranked highly among the university football teams in Canada has begun to trump the sportsmanship that should be implicit in intercollegiate sport.
The weekly list of the Top 10 football teams in Canada shows that it’s becoming not just a matter of winning games; to impress people the magnitude of the victories apparently has to be ridiculous. How else could teams explain the need to post such scores as 64-0, 72-8, 67-10 and 70-14 in just one week?
A generation ago, the conventional wisdom in games against beaten opponents demanded play calling become conservative, second-stringers—even third-stringers—got a chance to play and coaches were mildly embarrassed when the backup to the backup fullback gained 20 yards on a dive play designed to move the football three or four.
Not any more, it seems.
On a week when the top five teams in the weekly poll of University Football Reporters of Canada survey all won, you might suspect that the top of the ballots of the 30 panelists would remain the same. Instead, this week Calgary collected 28 first-place votes, two more than the week before.
What would compel two panelists to switch their first-place votes? How can winning your game be a reason to demote a team from No. 1 on a ballot?
Could it be because Calgary scored 72 points over a winless team (congratulations, by the way) and Laval scored just 64 against a 1-2 team from the Maritimes, the consensus weak sister among the conferences?
Let’s hope not, but it’s a conclusion that’s easily arrived at.
Does doing so not just encourage such score inflation? Did Calgary really need to throw a 73-yard touchdown pass in the final three minutes of a game it was already leading 65-8? Did McMaster still need to be throwing the football with 63 seconds left in a game it was leading 60-10?
Is a high national ranking worth the sacrifice in sportsmanship teams appear to be making to achieve it?
This week’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport football Top 10, with team, previous rank, my rank, record, points in balloting, first-place votes, last week’s result and next game:
1. Calgary (1) (5), 4-0, 295 points (28); beat Regina 72-8. Next: Saturday, vs. No. 8 Saskatchewan.
2. Laval (2) (1), 4-0, 260 points (1); beat St. Francis Xavier 64-0. Next: Sunday, vs. Concordia.
3. Western (3) (3), 5-0, 244 points (1); beat Carleton 70-14. Next: Thursday, Oct. 8, at Toronto.
4. Montreal (4) (4), 3-1, 208 points; beat Concordia 4-29. Next: Saturday, at No. 9 Sherbrooke.
5. Guelph (5) (2), 5-0, 190 points; beat Ottawa 48-26. Next: Saturday, at Queen’s.
6. Manitoba (8) (8), 2-2, 114 points; beat Alberta 42-32. Next: Friday, vs. Regina.
7. McMaster (7) (6), 3-1, 113 points; beat York 67-10. Next: Saturday, at Windsor.
8. Saskatchewan (NR) (10), 2-2, 82 points; beat British Columbia 45-29. Next: Saturday, at No. 1 Calgary.
9. Sherbrooke (NR) (7), 2-2, 69 points; beat Mount Allison 31-7. Next: Saturday, vs. No. 4 Montreal.
10. British Columbia (6) (9), 2-2, 46 points; lost 45-29 to Saskatchewan. Next: Saturday, at Alberta.