Stuff I Like: Canadian Football

Anthony Calvillo, Californian quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes, rushing against the Winnepeg Blue Bombers.

If you’ve been reading the blog for the last six months or so, you know that I’m a quirky, weird guy with quirky, weird interests, and that I’m also a sports geek. (And if you’re new to this fine blog establishment, take a look at my About Me page.) There are quite a few sports that satisfy both criteria of athletic and quirky (e.g. arena football, chess boxing, and the like), but only one that’s in the limelight (well, sorta) at the moment: Canadian football.

Canadian football’s the best of both worlds: it’s enough like real football to be palatable and enjoying, yet has enough quirks to quench the weirdness of a dude like me.

The field ten yards longer (midfield is delineated by a “centre line”); the end zones so deep (30 yards, in fact) that there could be picnics in them (although on this play (cue to about 6:00), the wide receiver needed all 30 of those yards); there are 12 men on the field instead of the usual 11; and there are three downs instead of four, all for reasons I can’t even fathom other than for being different. (And don’t get me started on the rule for the single-point, I always get confused.)

But the quirkiness is not the only thing that I enjoy about it. The timing of it is perfect: the season begins on Canada Day weekend (a k a, around July 1st) and ends with the Grey Cup in October, around Canadian Thanksgiving, so it’s just around the start of the NFL season. Games are almost always on Friday nights (at least, the Friday Night Football package was what was generally on MSG back in the day – NFL Network and ESPN3 now do all of the games), which for me is generally good.

I also like that there’s just as good a chance for a defensive struggle (a lot of games end 14-7 or even 7-3) as there is for a scorefest (the score of the game above was 54-51), and with an overtime much like that in college football, all games end more or less fairly. Playoffs are quite fair as well, with a “Crossover” rule in place so that the best teams move on, not just the least bad team in a division.

Even cooler about the CFL is that they listen to the fans in terms of rule changes, such as establishment of overtime, allowance of a “Wildcat” offense (previously banned), and the use of replay. They literally sift through the comments and see what has the most support.

But the best thing about the CFL is that it’s football. It’s competition in the summer that people can enjoy, Canadians and Americans alike (there are quite a few Americans in the league, as well). There isn’t a large amount of fanfare for the league, so players play largely for the love of the game (and also for a chance – or a second chance – at playing in the NFL). While basketball, hockey, and American gridiron football are generally on vacation for the summer, Canadian football is up and running, and it’s quite a bit of fun.

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