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CFL and CFLPA Implement Independent Air Quality Measurements for Future Games

In a decisive move, the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the CFL Players’ Association (CFLPA) have resolved to fortify their existing Air Quality Policy, a resolution arrived at after the CFLPA initiated an inquiry into the precarious air conditions during the Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders game played on Labour Day.

The inquiry was spurred by concerns that the Labour Day Classic went ahead despite Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) indicating levels that were potentially unsafe for strenuous outdoor activities, including football.

On the day of the game, the AQHI for Calgary fluctuated between eight and ten, clearly exceeding the threshold that had been previously agreed upon in 2019, where both organizations agreed on halting outdoor practices and games if the AQHI reached or surpassed a level seven reading.

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and CFLPA Executive Director Brian Ramsay communicated through a joint statement that the reinforced policy would involve the engagement of “an independent third-party organization to test air quality and provide measurements in real time.” This objective assessment would be the determinant in the crucial decision to play or continue a game that is in progress.

To facilitate the faithful execution of this policy, the third-party entity will provide real-time air quality measurements, upon which the decision to initiate or persist with a game will be grounded. This brings about an enhanced level of safety, mitigating the risks associated with playing in deteriorated air conditions which have been a persistent issue, especially in prairie locations where the teams frequently have had to keep a close watch on air quality conditions leading up to kickoff. It’s notable, however, that despite the recurring concerns, no game has yet been cancelled or delayed due to air quality issues.

The decision to upgrade the policy illustrates a focused commitment to prioritize the health and safety of the players and everyone involved. It reflects a willingness to adapt based on real-time conditions rather than static agreements, a dynamic approach that considers the erratic nature of air quality which can vary considerably over short distances and change drastically within a span of hours.

By aligning the policy with independent, real-time data, the CFL and CFLPA not only adhere to a higher safety standard but also work towards preempting concerns and criticisms related to unsafe work conditions — issues raised post the contentious Elks-Stampeders game, a concern that the CFLPA formally communicated to the CFL both before and after the game.

The consensus to maintain the existing Air Quality Policy while incorporating the independent testing stands as a testament to the league and association’s dedicated approach to secure a safe playing environment, even as they grapple with challenges that have an evolving nature. The proactive strategy showcases their readiness to update safety protocols in line with emerging scenarios, steering towards a future that values both the spirit of the game and the welfare of its players.

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Mark Perry Editor
Mark Perry is the founder and editor of CFL News Hub. A dedicated and experienced football analyst, he has been providing comprehensive coverage of the sport since 2018.
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