By Alexander Cole
University sports across Canada got a whole lot bigger this past week when the Canadian Interuniversity Sport, or CIS, announced that it would be partnering with TVA for the next four years.
According to the CIS website, the deal begins this fall and will run all the way until the winter of 2019. In the deal, it was stated that TVA would get rights to the Vanier Cup football finals, as well as the Uteck Bowl, the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Mitchell Bowl and the CIS football semi-finals.
TVA will also procure the right to broadcast both men and women teams from many university sports, including basketball and hockey. So far a schedule has not been set for hockey and basketball matches but the Mitchell Bowl, Uteck Bowl and Vanier Cup are all scheduled for this November.
However, this is not the first time TVA has dabbled in university sports. This past year, TVA signed a deal with the Réseau du sport étudiant de Québec in order to become its official football broadcaster, a move that has seen a few Stingers games make it to T.V.
These deals are quite remarkable for the CIS due to the fact that their product will now be exposed to a much larger audience. If you were to look at the top five teams in CIS football, you would notice three of them are from Quebec. You have the reigning champions, the Montreal Carabins, then the Sherbrooke Vert et Or and the Laval Rouge et Or. Now all of these teams will get to be seen by more of their fans and due to the increase in exposure, their fan base has the potential to expand.
It isn’t just Quebec teams that will benefit from this though; teams from all over the nation will experience a whole new level of exposure when their games are broadcast on French television — this will garner a whole new level of attention that is unprecedented for CIS teams. The CIS would become more popular across all of its sports and that is something the CIS desperately needs. Anybody who turns on TSN would realize how little the CIS is talked about, especially in comparison to its American counterpart, the NCAA, something that has affected people’s perceptions about the CIS brand in the past.
As someone who is new to Concordia, university sports in Canada was not something that interested me all that much. I never really thought much of them until I started covering a few games for the Stingers football team. It was then that I realised how high the level of play is. Games are incredibly compelling to watch. All of the players are extremely talented and those attributes don’t just stop with the football teams, they trickle down into all of the sports. However it seems like many students feel the same way I used to feel, which is really a shame. With more people witnessing the best of our Canadian college athletes, perhaps attitudes will change and CIS athletes will get the recognition they deserve.