We Interrupt This Program. . .
MONTREAL--Everything was going along swimmingly for Mark Cohon.
The CFL, Cohon pronounced during his second state-of-the-league address as commissioner, is doing gangbuster business these days. TV ratings are up, offence is back, penalties are down, neutral site games are in the offing and so is expansion to Ottawa.
Recession, what recession?
Then it all ended with a thud. Literally.
As Cohon was going through his question-and-answer session, a freelance TV cameraman at the back of the room collapsed in the overheated room, crashing to the ground. An ambulance was quickly called, and while the cameraman seemed to be okay as he was taken to hospital, Cohon was left looking a little lost while none of his handlers seemed to know what to do.
Finally, they moved him to an adjacent room, where he did a short scrum, then was whisked away.
Hardly a triumphant moment for the commish, but peculiar circumstances can do that sometimes.
Here in sub-zero but sunny Montreal, its hard to detect Grey Cup fever, but its there and should expand over the next few days. The game isn't sold out yet, and cutbacks in newspapers across the country have put their own chill on the game from a media perspective, with several outlets recalling writers or deciding not to send them altogether.
Cohon seemed a little surprised when asked about that, and you can see his focus is almost exclusively on the league's TV ratings, which are strong, rather than newspapers, which are facing all kinds of economic challenges these days.
Cohon did surprise with his talk of possibly holding neutral site games at a new track-and-field stadium in Moncton, and a return to Ottawa by 2011 remains a possibility, if not a certainty.
The commish was able to create a sense of a league that is more than stable at the moment despite the disastrous seasons in Toronto and Hamilton that essentially took southern Ontario out of the mix for the post-season. He said ratings on TSN were up 14 per cent, including 31 per cent in the 18-34 age demographic, suggesting that the league may be making a connection with the next generation.
All in all, it was hardly doom and gloom, hardly a mirror reflection of the economic uncertainty out there.
Then it all ended. Maybe it was for the best.