Updated: Oct 5, 2021
The CPL Island Games was a success and a great substitute for a full-length season and here's why.
The Canadian Premier League has shown strong qualities in it's short existence on why it will stay around for the long run and why it's being administrated fantastically. The recent completion of this years season continues to prove my thesis on why this league is progressive and will continue to grow. With COVID-19 arriving in the early stages of this year the question arouse on if sports will find a way to return. The difficulties would be how to manage a system on which they'd be able to award a champion and finish the remaining games. With most leagues being vocal on how they will conduct this return and keep fans alike updated throughout the process. The CPL did just that and a good job at it as well by updating and informing their audience on what the league was planning on doing. Even with plans of a return in place it still isn't and wasn't at the time a guarantee that things will go smoothly due to the uncertainty of this pandemic. Especially with the current size of the league and only being in it's sophomore season of being a competition there was never full reassurance. Also the mishaps with CFL then furthered the fear that the season would be be cancelled. Being only in it's second season and a new team in the capital of the country it would be tragic outcome for fans and probably would bring financial and other kinds of complications. Knowing that larger leagues will most likely return at some stage and in particular ones with a bigger audience or larger revenue stream.
By mid summer it was starting to look more likely that the CPL would return for a second season, with multiple leagues, fixtures and tournaments from across the globe returning, it was just a matter of time. Even the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) which operate and have a similar background to the CPL announced a tournament like structure comparable to that of it's soccer counterpart. The CPL Island Games were to be played in Charlottetown, PEI in a temporary facility built as a bubble for athletes to live, train and play in while they complete the tournament/season. By August 13th the fixtures had begun getting the season underway with the first and probably only CPL Island Games that'll probably ever be played. Similar to other leagues that operated in a bubble and most leagues worldwide fans weren't allowed to enter the bubble while team staff, players and media weren't allowed to leave. Also just like other leagues the CPL had no outbreaks or concerns of getting individuals infected as it went by smoothly. The fact the league was able to get this done and a month ago award the North Star Shield to the now back to back CPL Champions Hamilton Forge FC. With all the issues faced to see the end result work well for another successful season is really a testament to how much this league wants to grow and succeed despite being relatively fresh. Look at the CFL a league which has been a vital part of communities and history across the country couldn't find a way to get things undergoing. Yes, there's obvious reasons that prevented the season from starting but regardless if the CPL can do it in it's second season of life and during a pandemic I think any league can, even some of Europe's best and top leagues didn't return hence Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie because of government restrictions but these are major leagues much bigger than the CPL and they still couldn't finish the remaining games.
The Canadian Premier League continued to proceed into their newly made tournament that's substituting a full length season with a lot of talks and open dialogues in relation to racism and discrimination. During the COVID-19 Pandemic there has been multiple unfortunate events that took place globally in regards to police brutality and it coinciding with racism. With this recent rise of coverage many sports figures, athletes, organizations or governing bodies decided to take a stand and join in on the conversation. With the NBA and EPL players jerseys names being replaced with Black Lives Matter and/or other phrases encouraging equality and change. Many leagues and again with the English Premier League and even the CPLs big cousin the MLS managed to have many segments with media content attempting to spread knowledge and educate. CPL did all these things and even other methods to voice their players and staffs opinion on racism in sports and in their daily lives. With Instagram posts from Pacific FCs manager Pa Modou Kah making several videos discussing how it affects him and others around him then discussing methods to tackle the issue, no pun intended. The former Norwegian and AIK player was one of the CPL players and staff members who was very vocal throughout the Island Games on these issues. The tournament continued to make efforts to remind it's audience of the negatives effects of racism and how black lives matter and/or any other marginalized minority. Although the majority of incidents regarding racial abuse and horrific stories being just to the south of the border, that didn't stop the league from making sure it's players are heard and making sure it's showing full support. Throughout the field and the surrounding parts of the venue it was obvious that the league was trying to make a clear statement. An example most leagues in football have had signs and banners around stadiums but nothing like what the CPL did by putting BLM in massive letters across the pitch and ad boards. By doing these small gestures to show your support for these initiatives that are trying to fight against racism it allows the league to gain more fans. Most people if they see an organization is on board with their social messages and are in their corner they are more likely to want to support and rave on about that organization. It's no different here, with other leagues and sports in Canada dealing with racism potentially hindering their chances at gaining more fans from a certain demographic. Hockey has taken a hit in Canada, despite still probably being the most followed sport in the Canada. But after the recent incidents of discrimination and utterly odd situations of harassment coming to light as of recent, I'm sure that people seeing the CPLs approach and will find it commemorable and feel the want to tune in from now on.
Overall the CPL Island games continued to show why this league isn't just some semi-pro league or destination for low end players. The Island Games showed this league is a full out professional competition that deserves to be looked at in that way. With a series of exciting matches to prove that and accompany the Island Games that if anyone watched would get sucked into. The league has shown a quality of relentlessness and determination a characteristic that will ensure success in the future and stability. With new leagues being established then disappearing after a season or two it's clear that the CPL will stay but the real question is how can it improve and grow from here.
All photos are from The Canadian Premier League Instagram account