When you talk to a hardcore BC Lions fan and ask them what’s wrong with the team, and what they can do to get more fans in the building, the majority of them will tell you they would like to see better marketing of the product.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to market said product if the team is winning and playing entertaining football, something the Lions hope to do coming out of the gate in 2016.
Monday, the Lions stretched a cheeky banner across a pedestrian walkway next to BC Place Stadium that read, “Real football returns… June 25th”. This caught the eye of a few Whitecaps supporters including TSN 1040’s Mike Martignago who tweeted.
Bit of a shot at #WhitecapsFC from the BC Lions… pic.twitter.com/f9ndmBoBIc
— Mike Martignago (@MikeMartignago) May 2, 2016
In the North American definition of the word, the Lions speak the truth. The former professional league in North America was the North American Soccer League. The MLS is Major League Soccer. But let’s not kid ourselves, it was a subtle, well placed banner with some friendly humour, that got people talking about the Lions at a time when radio and social media are filled with the despair of the Canucks dropping to the fifth selection in the NHL Draft Lottery.
For a couple of years now the Whitecaps have used the slogan, “Best Sporting Atmosphere in Vancouver”, which in some respects might be the case. They have passionate supporter’s groups that fill one end of the stadium, chanting, singing and drumming, resembling a European soccer crowd.
It’s a pretty impressive sight, and all sports fans should eventually check it out. But eventually you realize you’re there to watch a sporting event and not supporter’s groups. I’ll put a big football crowd in a big game up against that any day.
To each their own and personally I find soccer slightly boring at the MLS level. I watch the occasional EPL game, and the World Cup. The soccer (football in this case) is spectacular, minus the constant acting of the players which seems to be a scar on most professional leagues of the “beautiful game”.
Opponents of the CFL have their beefs as well. The perceived inferiority to the NFL brand of the game, the amount of penalties, a nine team league. Again, to each their own but in the end I find a football game of any level more exciting than an MLS game.
The Lions are entering a critical year in which Wally Buono is attempting to restore the roar on the field by returning as head coach. They have a young QB who fans are excited about, and showed flashes in the second half of last season that they could be turning this thing around.
In the end, it really is much ado about nothing. Lions fans will be pleased that their club came up with a way of marketing the team that got people talking. They’ve listened to how they weren’t the best sporting event to attend in the city and they took a little poke back.
Good for them.
Most sports fans in this city want success for all the franchises. Hell, I’ve recently been trying to get people on to the Vancouver Stealth and the great game of professional lacrosse in our city. There is room for everyone to co-exist and get along and I suspect there isn’t a lot of crossover between soccer fans and football fans because from what I’ve seen, they seem to be different groups.
The Lions want to attract “football” fans, those whose kids play the game, those who follow the NFL or college games. They want people who grew up with the CFL to come back and bring their kids. They will do so once again when they start to win football games and play well in front of the home crowd. But on one Monday in May, the Lions managed to make a tackle that had Caps fans calling for a foul.
The Lions will gladly take the yellow.