The Canadian Football League (CFL) has long promoted itself and its championship game, the Grey Cup, as an integral part of Canadian identity and a force for national unity. Different periods of league history offer more or less support for this notion, as public interest in the league has fluctuated greatly over time. The 1970s were a period of relative prosperity for many teams, but by the late-1980s, declining attendance threatened its survival. During this period municipal, regional, and provincial governments rushed to support CFL teams through loans, tax breaks, and rent abatements. Pressed by frustrated taxpayers, politicians justified government support with little more than willful nostalgia for a formerly proud CFL. Three case studies are discussed detailing these events in different markets across the CFL. The nostalgic discourse of league officials, politicians, and journalists is examined.

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