CIS announces Vanier Cup tour that bypasses recent Ontario Vanier Cup-winning schools

The Eh Game

One would presume a promotional tour for the Vanier Cup would include stops at stadiums whose teams have actually laid hands on the symbol of Canadian university football recently.

If only it could so straightforward, but alas, this is Canada where everything has to be a compromise, particularly during these bleak times for amateur sports. The long tail of Rogers Communications' NHL deal has given a lot of smaller media properties a harsh swat lately, as much as the former would like to deny that's a major (if not the only) reason for dropping an Ontario University Athletics football package.

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So here is CIS, wanting to whip up some enthusiasm for the 50th Vanier Cup in Montreal by taking the trophy around the country every Saturday this fall, calling it the 50th TELUS Vanier Cup Tour. It's a good enough idea, mimicking the Grey Cup Centennial Tour from 2012. Eleven of this country's 27 football-playing universities are scheduled to host.

One problem: generally, such an endeavour means going to places where there will be exposure for the sponsor. And TELUS is much less prominent in the Ontario market than it is in Quebec, the Maritimes and Western Canada. And the country's largest athletic conference is also off broadcast television; generally it's better to have a promotion at a televised game.

All six Quebec teams will get a turn, which makes perfect sense with the game slated for Montreal. The only dates in Ontario are the Ottawa Gee-Gees-Carleton Ravens Panda Game on Sept. 20 at TD Place (where TELUS supplies the wi-fi) and a Laurier-Western game on Oct. 9. Surely a coincidence.

It makes perfect sense on some level, but at the same time it's an affront to what it purports to celebrate. A romotion slated to raise awareness of the university game's history will completely skip over the two most recent Vanier Cup-winning programs to come out of Ontario. The McMaster Marauders (2011 champions) and Queen's Golden Gaels (2009) were left out completely. Carleton University, which has grand ambitions after re-launching football in 2013, will get a turn, though.

The others that have interrupted the Laval Rouge et Or's time at the summit — Manitoba (2007), Laurier (2005), Saint Mary's (2001-02) and Ottawa (2000) — are all on the schedule as road teams. It's probably just a coincidence too, but an amusing one.

On the whole, such a venture is a positive and the fact someone is picking nits and trying to poke holes should be viewed as a sign that at least someone cares. Ideally, one would think, a Vanier Cup promotion would be about marketing the game first with recognizing the recent victors a close second, instead of not at all. So it goes, though, when telecoms are dictating how even small-time sports. Anyone who points this out often feels foolish for caring in the first place. At least CIS got a deal.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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