With the future of etstats in flux due to the seeming end-of-life of the CFL API as a result of the Genius Sports x CFL partnership, I'd like to talk a bit about the absolute chaos that has been the new release of data & other pet peeves..
With the partnership finally beginning to bear fruit, The CFL announced changes to the play by play module of games. here
is the tweet, which promises "cutting edge data collection" to "power enhanced insights."
Right off the bat it sounds pretty tech-buzzwordy, but there definitely is room to improve the old play-by-play, which is fairly barebones compared to some other sports. So cool! We might get shotgun identifiers, drops, coverages, closest defenders, etc. This would be a huge step forward in the analysis of the game. As well, given the new Designated National rule, we might even get snap counts! (Lol).
Another area where Genius was to come in was in the CFL Fantasy space, offering a product similar to last years' CFL Fantasy pools, where you pick ~8 players each week, each player has a salary, & you have to stay under the salary cap. I'm a big fan of fantasy sports, & have seen how it enhances watching the games first-hand. They also beefed up pickem (where you just pick which team is going to win), & added blitz picks where you can essentially pick a side on prop bets & have a total correct score running throughout the year. An example of a blitz pick might be: Will Vernon Adams or Jake Maier have more passing yards in week 1?
Again, these are good initiatives to give people a rooting interest in a game no matter which team they cheer for. The amount of times I've heard "That's my guy!" when someone like Tim White (we have no Hamilton fans in our home league) scores a TD is too many to count. There's a reason why NFL fantasy football is so so massive, and NFL Redzone is such a success. People like to have a rooting interest.
Sounds great so far, right? Well the release has been anything but.
The live and post-game stats have been a disaster. From 0 pre-season stats, to finally PDF stats (YES PDF STATS IN 2023!!!!), it was near impossible to follow along with in-progress games with many many bumps throughout the process. Stats disappearing, website not updating, & still no app (with no support for 3rd party apps for people to follow along). It's a mess. https://www.cfl.ca/2023stats/
is legitimately embarrassing for a professional football league. PDF boxscores of current year games, while killing all previous-year stats & gamelogs is absolutely inexcusable.
Want to know who was the leading passer in the league last year? Oh, heres a 300 page PDF to sort through!!!!!
Every other league in the world has tables of statistics. The regression from last year to this year is truly mindboggling.
And it continues!!! Though not up yet, the league leaders section on the CFL website (under player stats) also advertises "Find below a PDF of the CFL’s league leaders after each week of regular season action."
What is happening! I just want to look and see who had the most receiving yards last week. Am I going to have to:
a) download a pdf (which doesnt exist) or
b) load up four pdfs from games this week?
It makes no sense.
The CFL is consistently shooting itself in the foot by not being ready on these items. I get it, software breaks & there are unintended bugs, but going from last year's available stats to this years', when very clearly the rollout is rushed is flat out bad.
It also makes no sense to me that the CFL & apps like TheScore cannot come to an agreement on sharing live data. I understand, the CFL wants to be compensated by these 3rd party apps (especially when live data & gambling is concerned) but there has
to be a compromise where you can follow along with live stats on TheScore, TSN, etc. Again, this is a professional football league. Every other big-time professional league does this. The user / fan experience is so so so much better when stuff like this is available.
This leads me right into a point about CFL Fantasy, which persisted from the pre-Genius days. Once again, things have regressed. First, the UI is terrible. There is no reason why I should need to scroll on a page like this. Previously, it was great! Team on the right, Player pool on the left, easy filtering, & everything was able to be seen on a static page. As well, you can pick players who team is on a bye week!!!! Why!!!! What could that possibly accomplish besides people accidentally taking 0s and immediately being annoyed at the product. When CFL Fantasy first launched, they did so with including bye week players. Years later, and we are back.
Another unmitigated disaster is not being able to see the teams of others in my leagues. This is simply unacceptable. Upon games starting, I can only see total fantasy points? There just has to be a way to click on a league-mates's name and see their team. I'm truly flabbergasted that they shipped without this ability.
A note on the Designated American rule. This may be the dumbest implementation I have seen. The Canadian has to start the game, & then the Designated American can come in after the first play & replace them for 23 snaps. This can cause mass confusion and is just really silly. Imagine going to a game as a BC fan where Dominique Rhymes isn't even announced as a starter. He's one of the best receivers in the league! And fans don't get to show their appreciation as the offence is announced. It also causes massive depth chart headaches, where Ka'Deem Carey (the best RB in the league) is the "backup" to Peyton Logan as a result of the rule.
I don't understand why the CFL goes out of its way to make something as simple as "starters" inaccessible & convoluted to those who maybe aren't die-hard fans. If I'm casually picking my fantasy team, and a 14k running back isn't starting, how will that affect my choice? And then how will his eventual usage make me feel?
I've already talked about the PDF stats & discontinuing the API (seemingly). I won't rant further about the PDFs, but i don't have as hard of a stance on the API. The previous API was great. Good documentation with good (but not amazing) stats coverage.
It allowed me and others to enjoy football how we wanted to; by being nerds and looking at charts after games.
It is sad to me that the API looks to be gone, & it'll be a lot of work to convert anything that Genius is putting out into a useable format. I understand the deprecating of the old & not kicking up a new one, but again, many many many professional sports leagues have public APIs (the goat being MLB) to allow for fans, hobbyists, & others to enjoy the game in a different way.
Another piece that is new this year is PFF ratings! Yay! If only there were a place where I could actually look at the ratings from last year (and not just the top 10 put out in an article). As well, I'd love to see how players have graded out so far this year! Nope, not even on PFF's "more football tab." Once again, something that just simply isn't ready for the start of the year.
So yeah, that's my rant on the state of the CFL. Lots of things are seemingly going in the right direction, but there are impediments & mis-steps which are leading to bad first impressions which I fear could turn people away from this great game.