Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Analysis of New Brunswick Football: Where We Were, Where We Are, And Where We Are Heading

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Tackle football has a complex system in its delivery to the community. The system is comprised of organizations that help in this delivery of the sport from all levels in which athletes play football in. The purpose of this the presentation was to map out the delivery system of football in the province of New Brunswick (NB) by identifying player pathways through football and the governments influence on football through policies. For a summary, the main points of interest will be detailed below. The overarching question is how does the NB football system function and how successful is it at producing athletes?

Football in NB is in an interesting phase in that expansion of the sport has been at large in the last five years. The addition of the new collegiate Atlantic Football League (AFL) has been a great addition to the football delivery system in NB as UNB now hosts two AFL teams. What is more, the AFL has been shown to be a potential site for talent recognition by the CFL, although no one has been officially drafted (Two college athletes have been scouted at Holland College).

Also, NB has been shown to do very poorly in pushing talented athletes to the higher levels of football in the CIS. In 2013, the presence of NB footballers in the CIS throughout Canada was 35 men in total (This is extremely low in comparison to mostly all provinces). The CIS in 2014 had 45 football players from NB; a respectable increase of NB presence around Canada by 10 men. What is more, through analysis, many of these NB football players team roster profiles show a theme that many NB football players have played on the new provincial football team which was introduced in 2012. Perhaps the increased presence of 10 NB football players in the CIS from 2013-2014 is due to the addition of provincial football to the delivery system?

Another important influence on the football community is the CFL presence in the city of Moncton. The first Touch Down Atlantic football game took place in Moncton on 2010. The year before the CFL game occurred, the city of Moncton built new football infrastructure to host the game and to hold practices. The University de Moncton built a new stadium; three new club houses and a large bleacher was built at the Rocky Stone Memorial Field which was where the CFL teams held public practices and football camps for youth. The CFL commissioner Cohon exercised the possibility of a future CFL team coming to Moncton or Halifax. One would think that the new stadium at the University de Moncton would be sufficient, but it is estimated that it would require an additional $100 million in renovations to meet the CFL’s standards. The Moncton Touchdown Atlantic sold out in 2010, sold 97% of tickets in 2011, and canceled the game in 2012 because it was the CFL’s 100th birthday. There is no evidence to suggest that a CFL team in Moncton could reasonably sell out a full football season on a yearly basis.

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There has been speculation as well to whether NB can make an addition to the CIS football league. UNB used to be in the CIS, but dropped out in the 80’s due to funding complications. It is highly doubtful that UNB will advance its AFL team into the CIS because of funding and the lack of interest as the AFL acts as a great junior league in the delivery system. The University de Moncton is another school which was suggested to possibly enter the ranks of CIS football. Moncton would be a prime location as the university has a new top of the line facility, could reasonably scout athletes from the RSEQ Conference (Quebec), and the location is most ideal as Moncton is a metropolis for NB.

Lastly is how NB has seen attrition of football in the province, which goes against the idea that football is growing. The provincial team in NB folded in the past and the new team we have now is a reintroduction. UNB’s football team is a reintroduction as well, but at a lower level of competition. The AFL’s team in Moncton called the Raiders have folded after its second football season. The Moncton women’s team called the Vipers have dropped out of the MWFL signifying a potential attrition of women’s football in the Maritimes. What is more, the MFL had two teams in Moncton. One is called the Riverview Mustangs and the other is called the Moncton Marshals. The Marshals football team in particular folded much like the Raiders and the Vipers did. Although football in NB has shown growth, there has been almost an equal amount of attrition. There is no evidence to show that the many additions of football in NB can be sustainable for the long-term. Thus this makes one question further; will all the positive growth of football that has been seen in the past years stand the test of time?

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This summary does not cover every detail from the original work on the subject, but does cover the key points. Refer to my references below which are from the original document. On an ending note, if I was to describe the direction of football in NB with an aphorism from what is currently known,  then the following phrase would fit most appropriately: ‘one step forward and two steps back.’ The implication is that football in NB has made huge strides up the staircase of success, but has also stumbled its way back down the risers from time to time.

Mason Crowell

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