Why I Love the Canadian Football League
No pretensions north of the border
Originally Aired: Thursday, November 20, 2008. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
I have a confession to make. I, Robert Schur, am a devout fan of the Canadian Football League. I believe that three downs are plenty, that adding ten extra yards to the field and widening it to 65 yards make the game more exciting and
that there is a certain charm about seeing a team get a point for kicking the ball into the endzone, even on a missed field goal. When the Montreal Alouettes meet the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup this Sunday, America will barely notice but
that does not mitigate the joy that I take from being a CFL fan.
The best way to describe the CFL might be sprint football on a larger field. Wide open play, lots of passing and kick returns turned adventures are the norm sans the methodical monotony that characterizes the often conservative play in the NFL.
Remember, they kick on 3rd down in Canada so the quarterback goes right to the air more often than not. And who are these quarterbacks? Calgary QB Henry Burris completed 18 of 51 passes in six games for the 2001 Chicago Bears before coming to
Canada. His Grey Cup counterpart, Anthony Calvillo of Montreal played two years at Utah State before making his pro debut in 1994 for the CFL's ill-fated Las Vegas Posse. Make no mistake, these guys are NFL rejects but that fact does not detract from the celebration that is Grey Cup weekend.
Over 60,000 people will descend upon Montreal's Olympic Stadium for the 96th Grey Cup game. Yes, I
said 96, as in 54 more than the number of Super Bowls played. The Grey Cup is not some concocted celebrity showcase meant to sell advertising time . If fact, normal people can actually purchase tickets for it. StubHub doesn't exist in the CFL fan's vocabulary.
More than a football game, the Grey Cup, played in a different Canadian city each year, celebrates Canada's national identity. Please don't tell me that watching Janet Jackson having a wardrobe malfunction celebrates America. The game caps off a weeklong festival that at this very second is in full swing. Everyone is welcome this evening at the Spirit of Edmonton hospitality suite. Revelers can attend such gatherings as Touchdown Manitoba, Riderville and Tigertown, each celebration put on by the booster club of its respective team. Yes, it's like high school sports all over again except this time the soccer moms are replaced by Stetson-clad Calgarians handing out pancake and ham sandwiches from under a tent to their fellow countrymen.
The Grey Cup welcomes football fans from everywhere with open arms, regardless of their allegiances. When's the last time a Jets fan made you breakfast on the street?
(November 18, 2008)